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Jakarta rebuts claims of first lady's clout

Publication Date : 16-12-2013


Suggestions that Indonesia's first lady is the "undisputed top adviser" to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono are untrue and baseless, said the president's spokesman.

Julian Aldrin Pasha was responding to an Australian newspaper report over the weekend that explained why Canberra's intelligence agents targeted Indonesia's first lady. The report said they wanted to monitor her influence and believed she was grooming her eldest son for the presidency.

"The source of that information is unreliable. Clearly it is baseless," he said on Sunday, on the president's return from a summit in Tokyo.

The Australian newspaper had cited a 2007 cable from the United States embassy in Jakarta saying Madam Kristiani Herawati was "the only person the president could truly trust on every issue and he was increasingly moving in lockstep with his wife".

The cable first surfaced in the WikiLeaks disclosures in 2011, but its contents were rejected then.

The controversial allegations have reappeared now as the reason for Australia to wiretap Kristiani's phone, along with those of her husband and eight other Indonesian officials.

The latest developments come as Canberra is trying to mend ties strained by reports in late October that it was using its embassies in Jakarta and other capitals in the region to intercept phone calls and data as part of a US-led spying network in Asia.

Jakarta recalled its ambassador to Australia last month, at the same time that Yudhoyono ordered a suspension of all security exchanges with Canberra.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop flew to Jakarta early this month and pledged Canberra's commitment to a six-step plan by Indonesia to draw up a code of conduct on information and intelligence-sharing.


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