Retired generals seek return to power through elections

26 Sep 2008
Paul Barber, TAPOL

Although the Indonesian military, TNI, is now excluded from formal politics, many retired officers have been nominated as candidates for next year’s parliamentary elections. Several heavyweight former officers with notorious human rights records – among them Wiranto, Prabowo and Sutyoso - have put themselves forward for the presidential election later in the year. 

The TNI’s reluctance to relinquish power originates from a mindset that regards the military as the only force capable of safeguarding the country’s integrity and civilian politicians as inherently weak.  This has disturbing implications for the process of military reform and democratic transition in Indonesia.

These are some of the conclusions of the headline article in the first of a series of monthly Election Updates to be published by TAPOL online (see Election Update).  The article provides a detailed analysis of the array of retired generals that have emerged in different parties. 

The first Update also includes a background briefing on the Indonesian parliamentary system and a digest of election news.

Future Updates will focus on the elections in Aceh, West Papua, the role of women as electors and candidates, and other key issues.  Keynote articles will be translated into Indonesian.