Wiranto is a retired Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

n army General
A general officer is an officer of high military rank, usually in the army, and in some nations, the air force. The term is widely used by many nations of the world, and when a country uses a different term, there is an equivalent title given....

. He was Commander of the military of Indonesia
Military of Indonesia
The Indonesian National Armed Forces in 2009 comprises approximately 432,129 personnel including the Army , Navy including the Indonesian Marine Corps and the Air Force ....

 from February 1998 to October 1999, and ran unsuccessfully for President of Indonesia
President of Indonesia
The President of the Republic of Indonesia is the head of state and the head of government of the Republic of Indonesia.The first president was Sukarno and the current president is Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.- Sukarno era :...

 in 2004 and the vice-presidency in 2009.

Wiranto was praised for playing a key role as a moderating influence during the turbulent times of 1998 when Suharto resigned. He had the power to impose military rule, but refused to do so, thereby allowing the civilian process to develop. Taufik Darusman labeled him a "military reformist" because Wiranto reduced the military's role in Indonesian politics. He initiated the reduction of their seats in parliament and separated the police from the military.

However, he is accused by the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 and domestic groups of having a role in human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

 violations by the Indonesian army and Jakarta
Jakarta is the capital and largest city of Indonesia. Officially known as the Special Capital Territory of Jakarta, it is located on the northwest coast of Java, has an area of , and a population of 9,580,000. Jakarta is the country's economic, cultural and political centre...

-backed militias during Indonesia's withdrawal from the occupied territory of East Timor
East Timor
The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, commonly known as East Timor , is a state in Southeast Asia. It comprises the eastern half of the island of Timor, the nearby islands of Atauro and Jaco, and Oecusse, an exclave on the northwestern side of the island, within Indonesian West Timor...

 in 1999.

Early life

Wiranto was born on 4 April 1947 in Yogyakarta
Yogyakarta (city)
Yogyakarta is a city in the Yogyakarta Special Region, Indonesia. It is renowned as a centre of classical Javanese fine art and culture such as batik, ballet, drama, music, poetry, and puppet shows. Yogyakarta was the Indonesian capital during the Indonesian National Revolution from 1945 to...

 to RS Wirowijoto, a Primary School teacher and Suwarsijah. He was the sixth out of nine children. Only one month old, Wiranto and his family moved from Yogyakarta to Boyolali
Boyolali is a regency in the eastern part of Central Java province in Indonesia. Its capital is Boyolali.-Geography:The capital also named as Boyolali and lies 27 km to the west from Solo....

 near Surakarta
Surakarta, also called Solo or Sala, is a city in Central Java, Indonesia of more than 520,061 people with a population density of 11,811.5 people/km2. The 44 km2 city adjoins Karanganyar Regency and Boyolali Regency to the north, Karanganyar Regency and Sukoharjo Regency to the east and...

 for safety reasons as the Dutch
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 were planning to launch an attack on Yogyakarta. At Surakarta, Wiranto completed his primary and secondary education
Secondary education
Secondary education is the stage of education following primary education. Secondary education includes the final stage of compulsory education and in many countries it is entirely compulsory. The next stage of education is usually college or university...


When he was a child, Wiranto dreamed of a military career, but as he grew up he developed the desire to become an architect
An architect is a person trained in the planning, design and oversight of the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to offer or render services in connection with the design and construction of a building, or group of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the...

. However, training to become an architect was not feasible financially, so Wiranto decided to join the National Military Academy (AMN).

Military career

Wiranto graduated from AMN in 1968 and spent the early part of his military career in North Sulawesi
North Sulawesi
North Sulawesi is a province of Indonesia. It is on the island of Sulawesi, and borders the province of Gorontalo to the west . The islands of Sangihe and Talaud form the northern part of the province, which border Davao del Sur in the Philippines.The capital and largest city in North Sulawesi is...

, far from the centers of power in Indonesia. There he worked his way up from being a Platoon
A platoon is a military unit typically composed of two to four sections or squads and containing 16 to 50 soldiers. Platoons are organized into a company, which typically consists of three, four or five platoons. A platoon is typically the smallest military unit led by a commissioned officer—the...

 Commander to a Battalion
A battalion is a military unit of around 300–1,200 soldiers usually consisting of between two and seven companies and typically commanded by either a Lieutenant Colonel or a Colonel...

 Commander in 1982. From there he worked in the ABRI Headquarters for two years before joining Kostrad
Kostrad is the Indonesian Army's Strategic Reserve Command. Kostrad is a Corps level command which has up to 35,000 troops...

 in 1985 as a Brigade
A brigade is a major tactical military formation that is typically composed of two to five battalions, plus supporting elements depending on the era and nationality of a given army and could be perceived as an enlarged/reinforced regiment...

 Chief of Staff in East Java. In 1987, he was transferred to Jakarta where became Deputy Operations Assistant to the Kostrad Chief of Staff.

In 1989, his career had a major break when he was selected to become an Aide de Camp to President Suharto. The position of Presidential Aide de Camp was a prestigious one in the New Order regime as it became a launching pad for officers to have successful military careers. By Wiranto's own accounts, 2 Army Commanders, 3 Armed Services Chiefs of Staffs, and 2 Chiefs of Police, had served as Presidential Aide de Camp during their career.

In 1993, Wiranto became KODAM Jaya Chief of Staff and became Commander of KODAM Jaya in 1994. Two years later, he became Commander of Kostrad and in 1997, was appointed Army Chief of Staff. At this stage of his career, it was speculated that Wiranto, together with Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono AC , is an Indonesian politician and retired Army general officer who has been President of Indonesia since 2004....

, Agum Gumelar
Agum Gumelar
Agum Gumelar is an Indonesian military, politician and sportsman. He is a former minister having held several positions, a retired military officer and a former chairman of Indonesian Football Association and National Sports Committee of Indonesia, a former Indonesian Vice President candidate and...

, AM Hendropriyono, and Farid Zainuddin were the top five officers from ABRI's secular/Nationalist "Red and White" faction.

The last months of Suharto's regime

Wiranto's appointment as Commander of ABRI in February 1998 came at a crucial time. Indonesia was suffering from the effects of the Asian Financial Crisis and there was widespread opposition against Suharto. Nevertheless, Suharto was re-elected for a seventh term as President by the People's Consultative Assembly
People's Consultative Assembly
The People's Consultative Assembly is the legislative branch in Indonesia's political system. It is composed of the members of the People's Representative Council and the Regional Representative Council. Before 2004, and the amendments to the 1945 Constitution, the MPR was the highest governing...

 (MPR) as the situation continued to deteriorate. In Suharto's new Cabinet, Wiranto was named as the Ministry of Defense and Security.

As the situation worsened, Wiranto tried to calm the situation down through dialogue. On 18 April 1998, together with 17 ministers, Wiranto held a meeting with prominent members of society and student organizations. Wiranto took a cautious stance towards the social unrests that were brewing around Indonesia at the time and warned against it descending into anarchy
Anarchy , has more than one colloquial definition. In the United States, the term "anarchy" typically is meant to refer to a society which lacks publicly recognized government or violently enforced political authority...


Wiranto's involvement with the events of May 1998 began on the 12th, when he authorized Commander of KODAM Jaya Syafrie Syamsuddin and Chief of Jakarta Regional Police Hamami Nata to take care of the situation in Jakarta. The next day, the 13th, was the day during which four students of Trisakti University
Trisakti University
Trisakti University is a private university in Jakarta, Indonesia. Founded on 29 November 1965, the university has more than 30,000 students.It has several campuses and nine faculties:*Faculty of Law*Faculty of Medical Sciences*Faculty of Dentistry...

 were shot dead
Trisakti shootings
The Trisakti shootings occurred at Trisakti University, Jakarta, Indonesia on 12 May 1998. At a demonstration asking for president Suharto's resignation, soldiers opened fire on unarmed protestors. Four students, Elang Mulia Lesmana, Heri Hertanto, Hafidin Royan, and Hendriawan Sie, were killed;...

 and Wiranto responded by ordering the Military Police
Military police
Military police are police organisations connected with, or part of, the military of a state. The word can have different meanings in different countries, and may refer to:...

 to mobilize. Wiranto also sensed that the condition was about to spiral out of control and ordered for reinforcements in the form of Marines and Kostrad personnel. .

On 15 May, Wiranto met with Suharto who had gone to Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 to attend an economic summit but was forced to come back to attend to the situation back home. Suharto brought up the idea of reinstating the Restoration of Security and Order Operation Command (KOPKAMTIB) to deal with the situation. Finally, on 18 May, a Presidential Instruction was issued from Suharto to Wiranto. Wiranto was to be made Commander of the National Alertness and Safety Operation Command (KOPKKN). This Presidential instruction have been compared to Supersemar
The Supersemar, the Indonesian abbreviation for Surat Perintah Sebelas Maret was a document signed by the Indonesian President Sukarno on March 11, 1966, giving the Army commander Lt. Gen. Suharto authority to take whatever measures he "deemed necessary" to restore order to the chaotic situation...

. Suharto allowed Wiranto to choose whether or not he wants to use his new power and Wiranto chose not to.

Finally on 21 May 1998, Suharto announced his resignation from the Presidency and Vice President BJ Habibie took over as President. Wiranto also took the opportunity that ABRI will be ensuring the personal safety of the now Former President Suharto and his family.

Habibie presidency

Wiranto was retained as both the Commander of ABRI and Minister of Defense and Security in Habibie's Cabinet. He immediately began working towards reforming ABRI and on 11 June, gave to Habibie and Head of People's Representative Council
People's Representative Council
The People's Representative Council , sometimes referred to as the House of Representatives, is one of two elected national legislative assemblies in Indonesia....

/MPR Chairman Harmoko
Harmoko is an Indonesian politician. He served as information minister in the New Order regime of President Suharto from 1983 until 1997 and chairman of the People's Consultative Assembly and People's Representative Council from 1997 until 1999.-References:* "The Editors" , The Sixth Development...

 a manifesto entitled "The Fundamentals of ABRI's Philosophy on Reform Towards Achieving the National Goal". In August, Wiranto made a move to appease the people of Aceh
Aceh is a special region of Indonesia, located on the northern tip of the island of Sumatra. Its full name is Daerah Istimewa Aceh , Nanggroë Aceh Darussalam and Aceh . Past spellings of its name include Acheh, Atjeh and Achin...

 by withdrawing the status of Military Operations Region (DOM) from the Province.

The Special Session of the MPR was held in November 1998 and Wiranto cracked down on protesters who were against the Special Session, killing 8 and injuring 226. Despite this setback, Wiranto continued to build an image as a reformer. In January 1999, he met with reformist leaders and in April 1999, supervised the establishment of the Republic of Indonesia Police (POLRI) as an autonomous entity rather than subordinate to ABRI. ABRI also went through a name change and became known as TNI. Wiranto also supervised security during the 1999 Legislative Elections during which TNI and POLRI adopted a neutral role rather than support Golkar
The Party of the Functional Groups is a political party in Indonesia. It is also known as Sekber Golkar . It was the ruling party during Suharto's regime...

 as has been the case during Suharto's regime.

As Commander of TNI, Wiranto was also involved with the withdrawal of troops from East Timor
East Timor
The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, commonly known as East Timor , is a state in Southeast Asia. It comprises the eastern half of the island of Timor, the nearby islands of Atauro and Jaco, and Oecusse, an exclave on the northwestern side of the island, within Indonesian West Timor...

 when the Province voted to become an independent nation. In the process he became accused of being behind or at least condoned the human rights abuses committed by TNI soldiers during the retreat from Timor.

1999 MPR General Session

Much like the 1999 legislative election, Wiranto was in charge of security at the 1999 MPR General Session. However, he would soon become involved in the politics. Habibie, who had been nominated for re-election by Golkar chose Wiranto to become his Vice President. However, Habibie's accountability speech was rejected by the MPR and he chose not to run for President again. Nevertheless, Wiranto continued on as Vice Presidential candidate, this time with Akbar Tanjung
Akbar Tanjung
Akbar Tanjung is an Indonesian politician who is a former chairman of Golkar party. He was the Speaker of the People's Representative Council from 1999 to 2004...

 as Golkar's Presidential candidate. However, Akbar would withdraw from the race and throw his support behind eventual President Abdurrahman Wahid
Abdurrahman Wahid
Abdurrahman Wahid, born Abdurrahman Addakhil , colloquially known as , was an Indonesian Muslim religious and political leader who served as the President of Indonesia from 1999 to 2001...

. Wiranto finally withdrew from the Vice Presidential race when it became evident that Megawati needed to become Vice President to appease her supporters who were angered by Megawati losing out on the Presidency.

Wahid presidency

As part of his effort to name a Cabinet which included all elements of Indonesian politics, Wahid included Wiranto in the Cabinet as Coordinating Minister of Politics and Security. Wiranto was only in his position for three months when in January 2000, Wahid called for Wiranto to step down from his position on an overseas trip to Europe. It appeared as if the President saw Wiranto as an obstacle to his plan to reform the military and that he took the human rights abuses allegations seriously. Wiranto waited until Wahid returned before meeting with the President to argue his case. Wiranto seemed to have succeeded when Wahid decided to continue to keep him on but changed his mind during the same day and Wiranto was removed from the Cabinet.

Megawati presidency

In January 2003, President Megawati was forced to raise the prices of fuel
Fuel is any material that stores energy that can later be extracted to perform mechanical work in a controlled manner. Most fuels used by humans undergo combustion, a redox reaction in which a combustible substance releases energy after it ignites and reacts with the oxygen in the air...

, electricity
Electricity is a general term encompassing a variety of phenomena resulting from the presence and flow of electric charge. These include many easily recognizable phenomena, such as lightning, static electricity, and the flow of electrical current in an electrical wire...

, and telephone
The telephone , colloquially referred to as a phone, is a telecommunications device that transmits and receives sounds, usually the human voice. Telephones are a point-to-point communication system whose most basic function is to allow two people separated by large distances to talk to each other...

. Anti-Megawati protests were then held and it was suspected that Wiranto might have been involved in masterminding the demonstrations.

Human rights indictment

On 24 February 2003, the East Timor Special Crimes Unit indicted Wiranto and charged him with crimes against humanity.
However, prosecutor-general of East Timor, Longuinhos Monteiro, withdrew support for the indictment claiming there "might be some defects". East Timor sources believe Monteiro reversed his position following heavy pressure from senior figures in East Timor's Government.

The warrant was never forwarded to Interpol, the international police agency.

In November 2004, leaked Defence Intelligence Organisation
Defence Intelligence Organisation
The Defence Intelligence Organisation is an Australian government intelligence agency responsible for assessing intelligence obtained from or provided by other Australian and foreign intelligence agencies, supporting Defence and Government decision-making and the planning and conduct of Australian...

 documents revealed the Indonesian Military's decision to sub-contract out security responsibilities to the militias in East Timor in order to avoid international criticism of mounting violence and outlined the clear knowledge Wiranto had of these operations.

Presidential candidate

In August 2003, Wiranto made the decision to run for President after he declared his intentions to participate in the Golkar National Convention. Wiranto's opponents for the Convention were Akbar, Prabowo
Prabowo Subianto was an Indonesian career soldier and currently a businessman and a politician. Married to former President Suharto's daughter, Siti Hediati Hariyadi , he was influential under the New Order administration.The 1998 Revolution cut short his career, and he was accused of involvement...

, Aburizal Bakrie
Aburizal Bakrie
In this Indonesian name, the name "Bakrie" is a family name, and the person should be referred to by the family name "Bakrie".Aburizal Bakrie is an Indonesian entrepreneur and politician.- Family business :...

, Surya Paloh
Surya Paloh
Surya Dharma Paloh is an Indonesian media tycoon who owns the Media Indonesia daily newspaper and Metro TV, a 24-hour news television network. Surya Paloh is active in politics and he is the Chairman of the Advisory Council of the Golkar Party, the biggest political party in Indonesia...

, Jusuf Kalla
Jusuf Kalla
is an Indonesian politician who was the 10th Vice President of Indonesia from 2004 to 2009 and Chairman of the Golkar Party during the same period. He was an unsuccessful candidate for the 2009 presidential election.-Early life:...

, Sultan Hamengkubuwono X, and Nurcholish Madjid
Nurcholish Madjid
Dr. Nurcholish Madjid , in his homeland affectionately known as Cak Nur, was a prominent Indonesian Muslim intellectual. Early in his academic career, Nurcholish was a leader in various student organizations. He soon became well known as a proponent for modernization within Islam...

. By April 2004, the month of the National Convention, Hamengkubuwono X and Nurcolish had withdrawn from the race whilst Kalla left Golkar to become Yudhoyono's running mate. On 20 April 2004, the Golkar National Convention was held. In the first round of voting, Wiranto came second to Akbar with 137 votes to 147 votes. In the second round, Wiranto decisively won against Akbar with 315 votes to 227 votes and became Golkar's Presidential Candidate.

As his running mate, Wiranto chose Solahuddin Wahid, the brother of former President Wahid. The selection of Solahuddin was to improve Wiranto's image with regards to human rights. According to Wiranto "Because Gus Solah (Solahuddin's nickname) is a clean figure, of course he would not associate himself with dirty goods. Especially when he's the Vice-Chairman of the National Commission for Human Rights (KOMNAS-HAM). So I'm clean." In addition to Golkar, Wiranto also drew support from Wahid who mobilized both his National Awakening Party
National Awakening Party
-Origins:The story of PKB establishment began in May 11, 1998 when the elders Kyai held a meeting at Pesantren Langitan. They discussed the latest situation that demands changes to save Indonesian nation from destruction. As a result Kyai make an official letter to Pak Harto requested he fell or...

 (PKB) and the Nadhlatul Ulama (NU) to Wiranto's cause.

On Election Day 5 July 2004, Wiranto and Solahuddin came third behind Yudhoyono/Kalla and Megawati/Hasyim Muzadi
Hasyim Muzadi
Achmad Hasyim Muzadi is currently the Chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest Islamic organization in Indonesia.-Political career:...

 with 22.19% of the votes.

Yudhoyono presidency

In the lead up to the 2004 Golkar National Congress, Wiranto became one of the candidates for the position of Chairman. However, the situation soon changed when Kalla, now Vice President, participated in the contest to become Chairman with the support of President Yudhoyono. Wiranto was not happy because according to him, Yudhoyono would not do anything to block Wiranto from becoming Chairman. Wiranto then chose to align himself with his former opponent Akbar. However the two failed and Kalla became the new Chairman.

In August 2005, Wiranto, together with former Presidents Wahid and Megawati, former Vice President Try Sutrisno
Try Sutrisno
Try Sutrisno was Indonesia's sixth vice president from 1993 to 1998.-Early life:Try Sutrisno was born on 15 November 1935 in Surabaya, East Java. His father Subandi was an ambulance driver, and his mother Mardiyah was a housewife. After the Indonesian Proclamation of Independence, the Dutch...

, and Akbar met to discuss and criticize the policies of the Yudhoyono Government. On 1 September, they signed an official statement and called themselves the United Awakened Archipelago Coalition (Koalisi Nusantara Bangkit Bersatu).

The next month in September 2005, Wiranto joined the Nationhood Union, a mass organization which was created by former Golkar member Marwah Daud Ibrahim. At the organization's National Leadership Meeting in May 2006, Wiranto said that the organization was a way to test the waters en route to forming a new political party. Finally on 22 December 2006, Wiranto declared the formation of the People's Conscience Party
People's Conscience Party
The People's Conscience Party is a political party in Indonesia. It was established following a meeting in Jakarta on 13–14 December 2006 and is headed by and former Indonesian Military commander Wiranto, who has been indicted for war crimes....

 (Hanura) and was elected as its first Chairman.

Vice-presidential candidate

Wiranto ran unsuccessfully for the vice-presidency
Vice President of Indonesia
The Vice President of the Republic of Indonesia is the first in the line of succession in the Republic of Indonesia.-History of the office:The Indonesian Vice Presidency was established during the formulation of the 1945 constitution by the Researching Body for the Preparation of the Indonesian...

 as Jusuf Kalla
Jusuf Kalla
is an Indonesian politician who was the 10th Vice President of Indonesia from 2004 to 2009 and Chairman of the Golkar Party during the same period. He was an unsuccessful candidate for the 2009 presidential election.-Early life:...

's running mate in the 2009 Indonesian presidential election
Indonesian presidential election, 2009
Presidential elections were held in Indonesia on 8 July 2009. The elections returned a president and vice president for the 2009–2014 period. A run-off election was scheduled to be held on 8 September if needed, but President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono won more than 60% of the vote in the first...


Personal life

Wiranto has been married to Rugaiya Usman (Uga) since 1975. She is active in her role as, among others, Head of Indonesian Red Cross of Jakarta Chapter. The couple has three children: Lia, Maya, and Zainal.

Further reading

  • Honna, Jun. 2003. Military politics and democratization in Indonesia. London: RoutledgeCurzon.
  • O'Rourke, Kevin. 2002. Reformasi: the struggle for power in post-Soeharto Indonesia. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86508-754-8

External links

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