Jakarta. Presidential candidate and former special forces commander Prabowo Subianto declined to respond to former Army chief Wiranto's televised claims on Thursday that Prabowo was discharged from the military for ordering the kidnapping of pro-democracy activists in 1997 and 1998, acting on his own initiative.
"There's no need to respond, I have no response," Prabowo, who is chairman of the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), said on Friday. "Let the public decide."He refusing to answer questions from journalists, instead saying that Indonesians would provide the answer on July 9, the day of the presidential election.
“There were no instructions from military leaders at that time” to kidnap activists whose protests would eventually lead to strongman President Suharto's resignation in 1998, Wiranto said on Thursday.
Wiranto is chairman of the People's Conscience Party (Honura), and he supports Prabowo's opponent, Joko Widodo, to be the next president of Indonesia.
Prabowo's actions during the end of the Suharto era, long part of the discussion surrounding the candidate's political ambitions, have come to a head in recent weeks with the publication of a letter, singed by top military brass in 1998, allegedly recommending Prabowo's dismissal from service for overstepping his bounds.
Wiranto declined to say whether Prabowo had received an honorable or a dishonorable discharge, but he hinted that the dismissal had been dishonorable. Service members generally received honorable discharges due to scheduled retirement, chronic illness or permanent disabilities, he said.
Haris Azhar, chairman of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), said that Wiranto's statement should be sufficient for the General Election Commission (KPU) to disqualify Prabowo's candidacy.
"With things out in the open, the KPU should dismiss Prabowo from the election until we get a clear legal procedure, because the development of a legal procedure can be monitored and controlled by a president," he said. "If [President] Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono keeps on being silent, we need to suspect that he is going to be a part of Prabowo Subianto's regime — we can see this already from the fact that many Democratic party politicians have openly supported Prabowo."
Yudhoyono has asked publicly that members of the Democratic Party, of which he is chairman, remain neutral.
Johannes Suryo Prabowo, a member of Prabowo's campaign team, urged the public not to trust Wiranto, calling him an opportunist who used the Soldiers’ Honorary Council (DKP) to attack Prabowo's political career.
Former Army Strategic Reserve Command (Kostrad) chief of staff Kivlan Zen, who served under Prabowo, called on Wiranto to apologize publicly for distributing a leaked document and for his claims against Prabowo.