Wahid plans to pressure Suharto to return wealth: report

JAKARTA, June 21 Kyodo

Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid has revealed that he plans to pressure former leader Suharto and his family members to agree to an out-of-court deal on the return of the estimated $45 billion Suharto allegedly amassed during his rule, a local daily reported Wednesday.

The Jakarta Post report quoted Wahid as saying Tuesday in Cairo that he will use public pressure to force Suharto and his family to surrender their money to the government.

According to the report, Wahid told the Indonesian community in Egypt, “When the money is handed over, we will be able to repay our debts to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.”

National Development Planning Board data have shown that as of February, the government’s international debt was estimated at $71.9 billion, including a $10.3 billion loan from the IMF.

Wahid disclosed that he is considering ordering the state’s chief negotiator, Minister of Mines and Energy Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, to pressure Suharto and his family to give back at least 50% of the $45 billion as an initial step.

“Then the children (students) will demonstrate again, Suharto will be scared and then we will protect him (to regain the rest of the wealth),” he was quoted as saying.

“If we use the courts, Suharto’s wealth will never be returned,” he said. “Rich countries will enjoy (it).”

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