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Date: 19 mai 1998

La crise économique qui a secoué l'Asie en 1997 et la montée des prix de plusieurs biens de consommation, notamment la nourriture, accentuent la contestation en Indonésie. Particulièrement animée au sein des mouvements étudiants, celle-ci dégénère en conflits violents, dont un qui se déroule à Jakarta au milieu du mois de mai. Le Parlement est même occupé par des étudiants avant que le président Suharto, maintenant âgé de 76 ans, n'annonce à la télévision le 19 mai qu'il est prêt à enclencher des réformes et qu'il ne sera plus candidat à la présidence. Il démissionnera dans les jours qui suivent.

Sélection et mise en page par l'équipe de Perspective monde

"Honourable audience and fellow countrymen, in the name of God, the most merciful and compassionate, today I held a meeting with several Islamic clergymen, community leaders, and ABRI [Indonesian Armed Forces] leaders to ask for their views and advice to cope with the current situation we are facing and understand well.

Of course, the situation has raised concern among us, who have a sense of responsibility towards the safety of the nation and country.

There are calls that I should step down from my position as president.

As for me, there is no problem for me to step down.

What we must pay attention to is whether my resignation will solve the problem because the presidential post is not something absolute for me.

I am sure none of you have forgotten the process of presidential elections and instalment some time ago.

When I was about to be nominated as a presidential candidate for the 1998-2003 term by the country's socio-political forces, which was put forward by their parliamentary factions, I already asked whether it was true the Indonesian people still trusted me because I was already 77 years old.

I urged them to carefully examine all the facts.

It turned out that all socio-political forces, namely the United Development Party, Indonesian Democratic Party, Functional Group, and ABRI factions said the majority of people still wanted me to accept the renomination for the 1998-2003 term.

Well, that being the case, I was ready to accept their renomination with a sense of responsibility.

Therefore, I accepted it not because of the position itself, but because of a sense of responsibility, especially in times when we were facing problems as a result of several crises.

If I had left the scene in that situation, I would have been called a person who had left the situation when he was actually held responsible.

Therefore, once again I stressed that I had accepted the renomination with a sense of responsibility towards our country and nation.

Not everyone supports me

Now it has turned out that not all the people support and trust me to carry out my duties.

They start holding rallies to show their distrust and demand my resignation.

I say once again that there is no problem for me to resign.

I have the view that if I am no longer a president, I am determined to become a sage in the sense that I will get closer to God, take care of the children so they can become good citizens, advise people and guide the government from behind by using whatever I have to assist the country.

Now if I fulfil the demand for me to resign, if I resign constitutionally, I will hand over the post to the vice president.

Then another problem arises as to whether this is a good solution in the sense that there will be no further problem, namely: will the vice president also have to resign?

If this situation repeats itself over and over again and becomes a precedent in our national life, our country will automatically become chaotic as it has no basis for ensuring our national and social life.

The fact is we have such a basis, namely the Pancasila ideology and the 1945 Constitution.

If we do not adhere firmly to the constitution, our governments will not last long and will change frequently.

It is possible that some people may disagree with this situation, resulting in more serious conflicts which lead to bloodshed or even a civil war.

Our nation will suffer

If this happens, who will suffer? Our nation will obviously suffer.

The Republic of Indonesia, which proclaimed its independence on 17 August 1945 and engendered the 1945 Constitution one day after the proclamation, is a heritage given to us by the founding fathers and fallen fighters.

They want to ensure that it can become a good foundation for our highly pluralistic people so we can preserve it and live as a sovereign nation accepted by other nations.

I say once again that there is no problem for me to resign.

The only problem is my sense of responsibility where I have to think of what will happen to our country and nation.

Therefore, if I have not decided to step down, it does not mean that I do not want to step down, but because I want to ensure that my resignation will not affect the constitution, which must be implemented properly.

This means that the Pancasila ideology and the 1945 Constitution will continue to be implemented.

Therefore, we must adopt an action plan, which does not violate the constitution but which can be used as a basis to solve the problem and overcome the monetary and confidence crisis.

As our ability as a nation has been reduced due to the recent destructive acts, we need calm and stability to plan and implement our programme to rehabilitate our development.

My fellow countrymen! We must seriously think of having a phase which could ensure the survival of the nation. Thus, there will be no more rioting and what we want, including reforms, will proceed well.

I will take measures because I, as president and holderof the mandate [of the People's Consultative Assembly, MPR] have the power on the basis of the 1945 Constitution, the Broad Outline of State Policies and other resolutions to take these measures.

I will ask the people to seriously study my measures and thoughts for the sake of the interests of the nation and development programmes, which we are undertaking and will continue to undertake, to achieve a just and prosperous society on the basis of Pancasila.

Once again, we must think deeply of all this.

Do not be emotional

Do not be emotional, but be realistic! Everything must be for the sake of the interests of our nation.

We should not allow our republic, which was established with our sacrifice, to disintegrate.

This would amount to disrespect for the heroes who sacrificed everything for the Republic of Indonesia.

Ladies and gentlemen! Having listened to suggestions from community and ABRI leaders, I will take measures to save the nation, national development, Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution and maintain national unity and integrity in accordance with the power given by the MPR to me.

I will implement national reforms as soon as possible.

I will immediately set up a committee of reforms made up of community leaders and experts from institutions of higher learning to immediately draft an electoral law, a law on political parties, a law on the composition of the Council of People's Representatives [DPR], the MPR, and regional councils of people's representatives, an anti-monopoly law, an anti-corruption law, and other laws in accordance with the people's wishes.

General elections will be held as soon as possible on the basis of the new electoral law.

After the general elections, the People's Consultative Assembly will hold a general session, among others, to draft the Broad Outline of State Policies, elect a president and a vice president, and issue other resolutions.

I will not stand again

I therefore say that I will not then become a presidential candidate.

I will immediately reshuffle the cabinet to enable us to carry out heavy tasks because of the economic, political, and legal crises.

The Seventh Development Cabinet will be replaced by a new cabinet called the Reforms Cabinet.

I ask ABRI to maintain national vigilance as well as security, law and order along with the people.

I use this opportunity to express my deep condolences to the families of the victims of the recent rioting.

May the One and Only God accept the souls of the victims! May the One and Only God give spiritual power and patience to the families and relatives of the victims!

Finally, I express my sincerest thanks to the people for their support for the ongoing national reforms.

May God Almighty protect the Republic of Indonesia!

My fellow countrymen! Once again, think of the fate of the Indonesian nation! Think of the safety of the Indonesian people.

Do not allow our nation to become poorer and suffer more simply because of uncontrollable emotions.

The objective of the Republic of Indonesia based on Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution is to pursue the welfare of the Indonesian people.

We are undertaking development programmes to enable the people to live prosperously on the basis of Pancasila.

Once again, I will take the above-mentioned measures solely to save the nation and implement everything on the basis of our constitution.

I hope that all the points are understood. There is no need to worry that I will remain president. Not at all.

Some people said a few moments ago that I would still be useful for the nation as an ordinary citizen.

I will still give my services to the nation.

There is a Javanese saying: I will not have a skin disease if I am no longer president. I will feel honoured to return as an ordinary citizen. I will not lose my honour provided I am able to render services to the nation.

Thus, do not consider me as an obstacle. Not at all. We have to take constitutional measures solely because I am responsible for the security of the nation.

We must also take measures with God's consent.

Stop activities which cause suffering to our people! Stop provoking the people to commit wrongdoing!

In fact, the people have no intention to commit wrongdoing.

They have forgotten everything because they have been provoked to commit wrongdoing. We must end this because our national dignity will be affected.

I thank journalists and all of you for your attention. Peace be upon you again!"

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