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Indonesian president attacks media over graft claims

30 may 2011, 15:52
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Monday angrily denounced the media and users of social networking websites for spreading false allegations against his embattled party, AFP reports.

The ex-general lashed out at those spreading allegations of graft at the highest levels of the Democratic Party, which is reeling after former treasurer Mohammad Nazaruddin fled the country in the face of a corruption probe.

"Two days ago there was someone who slandered me from a dark place with a dark heart. This was outrageous slander including personal insults. I say openly they are irresponsible, ignoble and cowardly," he said.

"SMS, Twitter, websites, Blackberrys -- all online media should be used to improve life and educate our nation.

"We should not use online media to spread lies and assassinate character or abuse anyone, not just me but those who have become victims of information technology."

He added that any allegations against him were "1000 percent untrue", without referring to any specific messages.

The Democrats are reeling after Nazaruddin fled to Singapore in a blaze of publicity last week.

He was due to be questioned by anti-graft investigators over a $100,000 "gift" he made to a court official and suspicious contracts for the Southeast Asian Games, which Indonesia is hosting in November.

A widely circulated text message purportedly sent by Nazaruddin from Singapore on Saturday makes allegations against Yudhoyono, Democratic Party chairman Anas Urbaningrum and spokeswoman Andi Nurpati, among others.

Yudhoyono reportedly summoned the Democratic Party's leadership board for a meeting on Saturday to warn them of plots to destroy the party.

The normally taciturn leader has won two elections on promises to tackle corruption in one of the most corrupt countries in Asia, but his critics say he has failed to make any difference to the culture of graft and impunity.

Until now the Democratic Party has generally managed to stay above the corruption scandals that are daily media fare in Indonesia.

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