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Students storm Indonesia parliament JAKARTA - Police fired tear gas and warning shots as thousands of rock-throwing students stormed the gates of Indonesia's parliament Monday in the largest protest yet against the country's president. Three students were badly beaten by police as running battles broke out on the lawns of the heavily guarded legislature.
An estimated 10,000 protesters had marched through the streets demanding that President Abdurrahman Wahid quit over two corruption scandals. Inside the legislature, lawmakers convened in a closed session to hear the results of a long-running investigation into the twin affairs that have bogged down Wahid's 15-month administration.
``Wahid must resign immediately,'' said student Ijan, who like many Indonesians only goes by one name. Police said about 1,000 supporters of Wahid had also gathered inside the gates of the parliamentary compound. However, their calls were drowned out by the much larger anti-Wahid demonstration outside.
The size and violence of Monday's rally was reminiscent of protests that led to the ouster of former dictator Suharto in 1998 and his successor B.J. Habibie in 1999. Speaking to reporters at the presidential palace, Wahid dismissed the significance of the demonstration and laughed off demands that he step down.
The two scandals represent the biggest political challenge to Wahid since he was elected to office in late 1999 after years of authoritarian rule. Lawmakers have not yet publicly released their findings. However, many say there is sufficient evidence to implicate Wahid in both scandals despite the president's repeated denials of wrongdoing.
It is far from certain, though, whether the parliament will pursue the case and initiate lengthy impeachment proceedings. The investigation into Wahid comes as his popularity remains low due to his inability to fix problems besetting the world's fourth-most populous nation. Separatist and sectarian violence has killed thousands in several restive provinces and the economy remains in crisis. Authorities have also failed to catch the masterminds of a series of deadly terrorist bombings. The first scandal centers on Wahid's masseur and one-time business partner, who allegedly used the president's name to dupe the government's main food agency, Bulog, into handing over $4 million from its employees' pension fund. Bulog officials say that months earlier Wahid had asked if the fund's money could be channeled into aid projects in Aceh, a province wracked by bloody separatist fighting.
Wahid has admitted he initially considered doing this, but later decided against it. Instead he accepted $2 million from the sultan of neighboring oil-rich Brunei. His revelation led to allegations of a second scandal, dubbed ``Bruneigate,'' despite Wahid's insistence that the sultan's money was a personal donation.



Posted in Protests @ 29 January 2001 00:03 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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