Wiranto ([wiˈranto]; born 4 April 1947) is a retired Indonesian army General. He was the Commander of the military of Indonesia from February 1998 to October 1999, and ran unsuccessfully for President of Indonesia in 2004 and ran unsuccessfully for the vice-presidency in 2009. On 27 July 2016 Wiranto was appointed to the position of Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs, replacing Luhut Binsar Panjaitan.
Wiranto played a significant role in facilitating severe human rights violations by the Indonesian army and Jakarta-backed militias, during Indonesia's withdrawal from the occupied territory of East Timor in 1999. Both the United Nations and domestic groups have gathered evidence on this, but he continues to deny the charges. In January 2000, an Indonesian commission placed general responsibility for these injustices on Wiranto.
Some claim that Wiranto played 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. Nonetheless, more than 2,000 East Timorese were killed in violence under his watch, as well as 500,000 forced into displacement.
Wiranto was born on 4 April 1947 in Yogyakarta 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 near Surakarta for safety reasons as the Dutch were planning to launch an attack on Yogyakarta. At Surakarta, Wiranto completed his primary and secondary education.
When he was a child, Wiranto dreamed of a military career, but as he grew up he developed the desire to become an architect. However, training to become an architect was not feasible financially, so Wiranto decided to join the National Military Academy (AMN).
Wiranto graduated from AMN in 1968 and spent the early part of his military career in North Sulawesi, far from the centers of power in Indonesia. There he worked his way up from being a Platoon Commander to a Battalion Commander in 1982. From there he worked in the ABRI Headquarters for two years before joining Kostrad in 1985 as a Brigade 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, Agum Gumelar, AM Hendropriyono, and Farid Zainuddin were the top five officers from ABRI's secular/Nationalist "Red and White" faction.
Commander of ABRI (later TNI)
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 to Suharto. Nevertheless, Suharto was re-elected for a seventh term as president by the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) as the situation continued to deteriorate. In Suharto's new Cabinet, Wiranto was named as the Minister 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 unrest that was brewing around Indonesia at the time and warned against it descending into anarchy.
Wiranto's involvement with the events of May 1998 began by ordering most senior military commanders to go to Malang (850 km from Jakarta) for a ceremonial party, during the riot in the capital Jakarta. Later he authorized Commander of KODAM Jaya Syafrie Syamsuddin and Chief of Jakarta Regional Police Hamami Nata to take care of the situation in Jakarta. That was the day when four students of Trisakti University were shot dead. Wiranto responded on May 13 by ordering the Military Police 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 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. 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 to state that ABRI would be ensuring the personal safety of the now Former President Suharto and his family. Wiranto subsequently admitted the involvement of Kopassus special forces in the 1997–98 activists kidnappings in Indonesia.
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/MPR Chairman Harmoko 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 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 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 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 as Golkar's presidential candidate. However, Akbar would withdraw from the race and throw his support behind eventual President Abdurrahman Wahid. 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.
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.
In January 2003, President Megawati was forced to raise the prices of fuel, electricity, and telephone. 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 Special Panels of the Dili District Court 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 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.
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, Aburizal Bakrie, Surya Paloh, Jusuf Kalla, Sultan Hamengkubuwono X, and Nurcholish Madjid. 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 on 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 (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 with 22.19% of the votes.
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, 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 (Hanura) and was elected as its first Chairman.
Wiranto ran unsuccessfully for the vice-presidency as Jusuf Kalla's running mate in the 2009 Indonesian presidential election.
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. Zainal died of an undisclosed illness in May 2013 in South Africa, where he had recently begun pursuing Islamic studies.