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Pro-Wahid supporters torch Golkar Party headquarter SURABAYA - The angry supporters of President Abdurrahman Wahid on Wednesday torched the headquarters of the Golkar party in Surabaya, the capital of East Java province, making it the eighth Golkar office being burned down by Wahid's fanatic loyalists who staged rally since late lastweek protesting the planned impeachment against the erratic leader.
The supporters also torched another seven Golkar branch offices in the nearby towns in East Java despite desperate call from Golkar Party head, Akbar Tandjung, to stop the amock. Tandjung said he had called President Wahid two days ago asking him to calm down his followers. Tandjung added he also called the National Police Chief to take stern actions against the mobs.
"But the fact is Golkar office was still being burned down," Tandjung said. Still in Surabaya, the heavily outnumbered Indonesian security forces fired warning shots and teargas on Wednesday to quell angry protests by more than 50,000 supporters of embattled President Wahid. The protests emerged as the biggest since Wahid became Indonesia's first democratically-elected leader 15 months ago.
But the influential military gave him something of a political respite by joining other key power brokers in rejecting calls for early impeachment hearings. And Wahid's spokesman said Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri's party -- parliament's largest -- would back him to the end of his term in 2004. Witnesses said police fired warning shots and teargas as thousands of Wahid supporters tried to storm the local headquarters of the former ruling Golkar party -- which has been critical of Wahid -- in the country's second city of Surabaya, in east Java.
They said one protester was shot in the neck. There were reports of at least two other injuries from the rampage. Yelling "Golkar is the tool of the New Order," the mob stormed the party offices -- which hugely outnumbered police eventually abandoned -- looting equipment and then setting the buildings ablaze. The New Order refers to the long rule of despot Suharto who was forced from office in 1998 as the country tumbled towards social and economic collapse. Golkar was his party.
Last week Golkar joined a majority of parties in backing a parliamentary motion censuring Wahid over his role in two financial scandals in what could lead to his impeachment. But one leader of the pro-Wahid protesters distanced his group from those attacking the Golkar party offices and the crowd beat one man they accused of being a provocateur. "Kill Amien Rais, kill Akbar Tandjung!" screamed one protester during the rally at Surabaya, referring to the speakers of the top legislature and the parliament -- both former allies but now widely seen as Wahid foes. Tandjung also leads Golkar.

Enemies push for early session

Political enemies are pushing for an early special session of the top legislature, the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), to consider dumping the 60-year-old Wahid, whose grip on power looks increasingly weak. But his chief spokesman said Megawati and her Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P) would back Wahid until the end of his five-year term.
"He knows that in the end she will be his supporter until 2004," Wimar Witoelar told Reuters Television in an interview. Megawati herself has remained typically silent. The armed forces on Wednesday joined PDI-P and Golkar, the second largest party, in rejecting an early special MPR session. MPR chief Rais, who helped engineer Wahid's surprise rise to power and is now spearheading the drive to oust him, is pressing for a special MPR session within eight weeks.
Rais also played a prominent role in the wave of opposition that led to Suharto's downfall in 1998. But the military, PDI-P and Golkar, who between them control an overwhelming majority in parliament and the MPR, said any special session can only be convened after following steps laid out in the constitution, which could take more than four months.
"We are not anti Gus Dur (Wahid), but we are not pro Gus Dur," military spokesman Air Vice Marshal Graito Usodo told Reuters. "If the politicians take steps outside the constitutional line, then the military will speak out to remind them." With major groups blocking early impeachment hearings, Wahid appears to have won a breather in his battle for survival.
But their stand falls short of wholehearted support and in the volatile world of Indonesian politics an about face by one or all is very possible. Wahid has three months to reply to the censure over the scandals -- one involving the theft of $4.1 million from the state commodities regulator Bulog, the other his acceptance of a $2 million aid donation from the Sultan of Brunei.
Most analysts expect Wahid to survive for now because of the lack of a credible alternative, the complexity of the impeachment proceedings and the fears of violence if he is ousted. But the censure, his erratic leadership and his failure to make any inroads into the massive political, law and order and economic problems weighing on the country have undermined his standing and few believe he will see out the end of his term.

Posted in Violence @ 07 February 2001 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

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