JAKARTA • Former Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has launched an unprecedented tirade against the government of President Joko Widodo, accusing it of producing a false intelligence report about him and his family.
In an emotional press conference at his West Java home late on Wednesday, Dr Yudhoyono slammed the government for allegedly circulating information that suggests he is the mastermind of the planned rally by thousands of hard-line Muslims in Jakarta today.
The protesters want to pressure the police to charge Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, a close friend of Mr Joko, with blasphemy over his comments about a Quranic verse.
Ahok is seeking a second term in the February gubernatorial election. His rivals are former education and culture minister Anies Baswedan and Mr Agus Harimurti, Dr Yudhoyono's eldest son.
An agitated Dr Yudhoyono said on Wednesday that he had nothing to do with the rally. Rumours that suggested he was the mastermind were an "intelligence failure and error", he said.
"It is slanderous and insulting for (a party) to accuse certain people or political parties of (masterminding the rally) in the name of intelligent analysis," Dr Yudhoyono said.
"And it's very dangerous for the country."
The former president said today's rally and the gubernatorial race were separate issues. He said Ahok should go through due legal process to address his alleged blasphemy. A legal case against Ahok could seriously hurt his chances in the gubernatorial election.
Mr Joko has promised not to interfere in the matter, while police have repeatedly said they would follow up on the blasphemy allegation.
Asked to comment on Dr Yudhoyono's claim that the government had "false intelligence", Mr Joko said cryptically: "Humans sometimes may make mistakes. They are wrong, and sometimes they are right."
He said Dr Yudhoyono's message was a positive move.
"He is giving inputs to the government, that's good, very good," Mr Joko told reporters yesterday.
JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK