Communist Abortive Coup
of their strength and precipitated by the serious
illness of President Soekarno, who was undergoing
treatment by a Chinese medical team from Beijing,
the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) attempted another
coup on September 30, 1965. The uprising, however,
was abrupt and quickly stamped out by the Armed Forces
under Major General Soeharto, then Chief of the Army's
On the night of September 30, or more precisely in
the early hours of October 1, 1965, armed PKI men
and members of Cakrabirawa, the President's security
guard, set out to kidnap, torture and kill six top
Army Generals. Their bodies were dumped in an abandoned
well at Lubang Buaya, on the outskirts of Jakarta.
The coup was staged in the wake of troop deployments
to Kalimantan, at the height of Indonesia's confrontation
with Malaysia. Moreover, at the time, many cabinet
members were attending a celebration of the Chinese
October Revolution in Beijing. It was during this
power vacuum that the communists struck again.
Under instructions from General Soeharto, crack troops
of the Army's Commando Regiment (RPKAD) freed the
central radio station (RRI) and the telecommunication
center from communist occupation. Students made for
the streets in militant demonstrations to fight for
a three-point claim, or "Tritura," that
aimed to ban the PKI, replace Soekarno's cabinet ministers,
and reduce the prices of basic necessities. They set
up a "street parliament" to gather the demands
of the people.
Under these explosive conditions, President Soekarno
eventually gave in and granted Soeharto full power
to restore order and security in the country. The
transfer of power was effected by a presidential order
known as "the 11th of March order" of 1966.
Soon afterwards, on March 12, 1966, General Soeharto
banned the PKI. This decision was endorsed and sanctioned
by virtue of the Provisional People's Consultative
Assembly Decree No XXV/MPRS/1966. He also formed a
new cabinet, but Soekarno remained as Chief Executive.
This brought dualism into the cabinet, particularly
when Soekarno did not show support for the cabinet's
program to establish political and economic stability.
Hence, a special session of the Provisional People's
Consultative Assembly (MPRS) was convened from March
7-12, 1967. The Assembly resolved to relieve Soekarno
of his presidential duties and appointed Soeharto
as Acting President, pending the election of a new
President by an elected People's Consultative Assembly.