by Andreas Harsono
American Reporter Correspondent
July 23, 2001
WAHID GOVERNMENT NEARS COLLAPSE IN INDONESIA
JAKARTA, July 23, 2001 -- Indonesia's President Abdurrahman Wahid today ordered the dissolution of parliament, "froze" the main opposition party Golkar 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 parliament gathered to oust him.
In a showdown that has been gathering steam since charges of bribery and incompetence were leveled at the blind, ailing leader six months ago, Wahid seemed to have little but the threat of violence by members of his Nadluhatl Ulamma (NA), a 28-million-member lay Muslim organization he headed before 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 threat of fresh violence. More than 46 Catholics were injured in the bombing of two churches in Jakarta suburbs as they gathered for Mass on Sunday morning. No one has taken responsibilty for the blasts.
Amien Rais, leader of the 700-member People's Consulative Assembly, said that parliamentary leaders 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 recapitulation of modern Indonesian history. It was her father, the revered Sukarno, who took power from a democratically elected government nearly four decades ago, and then was ousted in 1966 by strongman Suharto, whose 31-year-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 Golkar organization to become the ruling party. Suharto's regime began to falter when his generals -- in a plot reported exclusively in the American Reporter -- organized a "rump" convention to take leadership of the then-main opposition Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) from Megawati in 1996.
The 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 support 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 dissolution of parliament, culminated in a gathering of parliament that began shortly before dawn, while thousands of police officers and Indoensian Army troops aimed their weapons not at parliament as ordered but at the presidential palace. Leaders of parliament predicted that Wahid'souster would be ordered by the body within days, if not sooner.