Indonesian president's peace plan fizzles as opponents shun meeting

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The Independent Online

President Abdurrahman Wahid's latest attempt to stave off impeachment next month appeared to have failed Monday as most of his political opponents said they had declined his invitations to attend peace talks.

Five major parliamentary parties said their leaders would not show up at the talks that were planned to be held at a presidential palace in the hilltop city of Bogor, 35 miles south of Jakarta, the Kompas newspaper reported.

It was not immediately clear whether any other political players would take part.

Still, presidential spokesman Adhi Massardi said Wahid would be in Bogor for the meeting scheduled for Monday afternoon.

Among those staying away was the president's main rival, Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri, who chairs Parliament's largest faction, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle.

"We will not accept the invitation and our chairwoman said nobody should go on behalf of the party," said Sutjipto, a senior party official, who like many Indonesians uses one name.

Her private secretary Bambang Kesowo said Megawati had been formally invited to the talks around midnight on Sunday and did not have enough time to rearrange her Monday schedule.

Megawati is almost certain to become president if lawmakers unseat Wahid in an impeachment hearing slated to start in the national assembly on Aug. 1. Most analysts say Wahid has little chance of surviving as president.

Wahid is accused of corruption and incompetence during his 20–month administration. He has denied any wrongdoing.

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