JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ In a surprise reversal, President Abdurrahman Wahid suspended his powerful security minister, Gen. Wiranto, from the Cabinet over his alleged role in last year's bloodshed in East Timor, newspapers reported Monday.

Upon his return home Sunday following a 16-day overseas tour, Wahid met with Wiranto and announced that the minister would remain part of the government while the attorney general's office conducted a new formal inquiry into the violence that followed East Timor's vote for independence.

But late Sunday night, the president, who has been known to frequently make strong statements on issues only to ignore them later or change his stance, told Indonesian reporters that Wahid would be suspended from the Cabinet during the new probe.

``While waiting for the attorney general's special team to investigate Gen. Wiranto, I have taken a decision to deactivate him from duty, and (appoint) interior minister Surjadi Sudirdja as interim coordinating minister for security and political affairs,'' Wahid said, as quoted by the Kompas newspaper.

Other Jakarta newspapers carried similar reports.

Wahid gave no explanation for his unexpected decision. The announcement was made to reporters from the Indonesian media who had been called to the palace around midnight Sunday, reporters said.

Several hours earlier, Wahid had held an impromptu news conference to announce that he was keeping Wiranto _ who has refused numerous public and private appeals from Wahid to resign _ in the government until the attorney general finalized the new investigation of Wiranto's responsibility for the events in East Timor.

On Monday morning, presidential spokesman Dharmawan Ronodipuro declined to comment about the Kompas report but said that Cabinet secretary Marsilam Simanjuntak would make a formal announcement later in the day.