Indonesian President Has Security Minister Sworn In

From Reuters

President Abdurrahman Wahid, desperately trying to hold on to power, installed a new top security minister Saturday as tension grew over the national police chief's refusal to step down.

Highlighting Wahid's growing friction with his estranged deputy, Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri snubbed the swearing-in ceremony of the minister, an occasion she would normally be expected to attend.

Wahid reshuffled his Cabinet on Friday in what many analysts see as part of the Muslim cleric's last-ditch effort to avoid being ousted in August over his alleged involvement in two corruption scandals and his unruly 19 months in power.

He also requested the resignation of national police chief Gen. Suroyo Bimantoro, but the official has refused to step down, saying parliament has to endorse the order first.

Senior police from all over Indonesia were summoned to a meeting Saturday night in Jakarta, the capital, to formally support Bimantoro, the official Antara news agency said.

Local media said dozens of police generals and parliament Speaker Akbar Tanjung had already backed Bimantoro's refusal to follow Wahid's order to quit--an extraordinary public show of defiance in a country that prizes deference to superiors.

The only minister sworn in Saturday was Agum Gumelar, who replaced the widely respected Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Foreign Minister Alwi Shihab told reporters that Wahid would install the remaining five Tuesday.

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