WAHID GOVERNMENT NEARS COLLAPSE IN INDONESIA
by Andreas Harsono
American Reporter Correspondent
JAKARTA, July 23, 2001 -- Indonesia's President Abdurrahman Wahid today = ordered the dissolution of parliament, "froze" the main opposition party Go= lkar and called for elections a year from now, but his generals and Jakarta=
police refused to carry out the orders as leaders of the nation's parliame= nt gathered to oust him.
In a showdown that has been gathering steam since charges of bribery a= nd incompetence were leveled at the blind, ailing leader six months ago, Wa= hid seemed to have little but the threat of violence by members of his Nadl= uhatl Ulamma (NA), a 28-million-member lay Muslim organization he headed be= fore becoming president.
NA Members were reportedly en route to Jakarta by the busload to mount= demonstrations in the streets against his ouster, posing a substantial thr= eat of fresh violence. More than 46 Catholics were injured in the bombing o= f two churches in Jakarta suburbs as they gathered for Mass on Sunday morni= ng. No one has taken responsibilty for the blasts.
Amien Rais, leader of = the 700-member People's Consulative Assembly, said that parliamentary leade= rs would try to arrange a violence-free ouster by allowing Wahid to remain = in the presidential palace while Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri takes= over as president.
That would complete a dramatic reversal in her fortunes and a bizarre re= capitulation of modern Indonesian history. It was her father, the revered = Sukarno, who took power from a democratically elected government nearly fou= r decades ago, and then was ousted in 1966 by strongman Suharto, whose 31-y= ear-rule was marked by high-level corruption, nepotism, the suppression of = minorities and absolute political power.
Suharto was deposed in 1999 and succeeded by his Vice President, B.J. = Habibie, who was then forced to call elections that resulted in victory for= the moderate Wahid.
Megawati became Vice President, and her party vanquished Suharto's Gol= kar organization to become the ruling party.
Suharto's regime began to fa= lter when his generals -- in a plot reported exclusively in the American Re= porter -- organized a "rump" convention to take leadership of the then-main= opposition Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) from Megawati in 1996.
Th= e move touched off riots that werre the most severe in Jakarta since 1961, = and brought Megawati into focus as a global figure for the first time. She= has been a reluctant vice president, however, reportedly doing little to s= upport Wahid or to address the nation's problems. She is notoriously retic= ent about taking positions.
The day's events, beginning with the 1 a.m. announcement of the dissolut= ion of parliament, culminated in a gathering of parliament that began short= ly before dawn, while thousands of police officers and Indoensian Army troo= ps aimed their weapons not at parliament as ordered but at the presidential= palace. Leaders of parliament predicted that Wahid'souster would be order= ed by the body within days, if not sooner.