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East Java, Homeland of Wahid, Is in a State of Anarchy

Posted May. 30, 2001 09:00,   


As Indonesian Parliament is expected to decide whether to convene a special session of the People`s Consultative Assembly (MPR) for impeachment of President Abdurrahman Wahid on 30th, the political phase of Indonesia is falling into the worst chaos.

Indonesia’s six major parties that include Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P), the largest party in parliament led by Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri, and Golkar Party made it clear that they support to convene the special session to impeach President Wahid at each parties’ preliminary meetings before the casting of the votes. Those six parties occupy 397 seats out of 500 parliament seats.

Although President Wahid submitted a letter of explanation to the parliament that contains the prosecutors office’s investigation report that says he was not involved in the two financial scandals and his plan of managing the state, he failed to persuade the opposite parliament members.

It is forecasted that since the parliament’s will to impeach Wahid is unshakable, the president has two options of whether he breaks through the crisis by declaring a state of emergency or he presents a mean of political resolution to the opposition parties before the special session is convened.

Regarding this situation, Indonesia’s official Antara News Agency reported on 30th that President Wahid’ people threatened to arrest the political enemies to stop the impeachment procedure. Yahya Staquf, the presidential palace spokesman, said, ``The recently declared quasi-state of emergency can be used to arrest people who run counter to democracy.``

37 opposing parliament members of Wahid including Akbar Tanjung, the Golkar party leader and parliamentary president, already demanded 24 hour personal protection for themselves to the police on 30th.

While the regular session of the parliament was held on 30th, in Jakarta and east Java, Wahid’s homelane, thousands of protesters, who oppose to the impeachment of Wahid, had intense demonstration against the police.

In east Java’s Pasuruan, where the most violent demonstration is taking place, protesters attacked Protestant churches and police offices. It was in a state of anarchy in which schools and businesses shut down. On 30th, in Sidoarjo, Pasuruan, and Gresik, thousands of protesters had the Wahid supporters’ rally blocking major roads and stubbornly resisted against riot police throwing stones and firebombs as they tried to march into Surabaya, the capitol of the state.

Due to the demonstration, which continued for three consecutive days, five churches, opposition parties’ offices, and schools were badly burned by firebomb attacks. Indonesian government dispersed demonstrators by allotting about 600 special forces soldiers to the region.

In Jakarta, about 9.000 protestors had demonstration in downtown, including 4.000 Wahid supporters who came from east Java and marched in front of the parliament building holding banners and posters. Yet, no bloody scenes were found.

3.000 protestors stood face to face with police right before the vote casting began at the front of the parliament building trying to march into the building. Police are doing there best to maintain security by allotting more than 40.000 policemen in Jakarta. 40 armored vehicles were deployed around Parliament and the nearby Jakarta Convention Center, where leaders of the G-15 group of developing nations were meeting.

Hong Seong-Chul sungchul@donga.com