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Gus Dur supporters start pouring into the capital JAKARTA - Amid increasing worries of possible civil unrest over the current political situation, hundreds of supporters of President Abdurrahman Wahid arrived here on Monday to show support for their embattled leader. People grouped in the United People's Movement (Garab) from Malang and Blitar, East Java, arrived at Senen railway station in Central Jakarta on Monday. Many other supporters took buses to the capital.
Garab's coordinator H. Somad, who claimed to lead some 700 people, said they had come to the capital to show support for the President and reject the convening of a special session of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) that would likely impeach him. "I can guarantee that this group will not create any riots in the capital ... Of course we will not target Jakarta residents since we all love peace," he said. He said the President's supporters, comprising farmers, students and traders, would stay in Jakarta until the convening of the special session.
The House of Representatives (DPR) will hold a plenary session on Wednesday that is likely to call for the MPR to convene the special session to impeach the President. The police seemed to have anticipated the influx of Abdurrahman's supporters as dozens of police officers conducted weapons searches against everyone alighting from trains at Senen station. After the search, police seized three sickles, a machete and many sharpened bamboo sticks. Police even detained one of the President's supporters for possession of weapons.
Central Jakarta police chief Sr. Comr. Mathius Salempang said the police escorted some of the incoming Abdurrahman supporters to the Pondok Gede Muslim pilgrims' dormitory in East Jakarta. Some others went to their hotels in Jl. Jaksa, Central Jakarta. Mathius predicted that the Abdurrahman supporters who arrived here on Monday numbered around 400 people. Separately, city police chief Insp. Gen. Sofjan Yacob said later on Monday evening that the number of incoming Abdurrahman supporters had reached over 650 people.
He expected many more people from East and Central Java would come to Jakarta by train and bus on Tuesday and the coming few days to show support for the President. The police will again conduct body searches of those incoming passengers at Senen train station, and also at a number of bus terminals. He said the police had no objection to their presence, as long as they did not cause any trouble.
"But if they try to provoke mass unrest, then we'll beat them up," Sofjan warned. He added that police were monitoring the movements of the supporters. He noted that the city police had readied all of its personnel to secure Jakarta from possible civil unrest. Despite a full security alert by the city police, Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso claimed on Monday that the city was still safe and would remain so in the coming few days.
Two important events will be held in Jakarta this week, namely the DPR's plenary session on Wednesday and the summit of leaders from the Group of 15 developing countries (G-15) on Wednesday and Thursday. "Although it's a red alert, Jakarta is still safe. I hope residents will continue to go about their daily activities as usual," Sutiyoso told reporters, after attending a meeting at the city council.
Before the meeting, he predicted the number of Abdurrahman supporters coming to Jakarta would be less than those who came last month, when the House convened a plenary session to issue the second memorandum of censure against the President. Separately, Deputy Governor for Administrative Affairs Abdul Kahfi urged Jakarta residents to help secure the city by guarding their own neighborhoods. "We hope residents will safeguard their neighborhoods around the clock," Kahfi said.



Posted in Politics @ 29 May 2001 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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