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2001-07-23

Indonesia’s Parliament Votes to Impeach President Abdurahman Wahid; Vice-President Megawatisukarnoputri, Who Has Close Ties to the Military, Ascends to Power

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Indonesia’s national assembly impeached President Abdurahman Wahid today and elected Vice President MegawatiSukarnoputri as his successor. The motion to dismiss Wahid, a nearly blind Muslim cleric who heads the nation’slargest Muslim organization, was passed 591-0. The vote was taken after army generals and senior police officersrejected an emergency decree issued hours before by Wahid that ordered the assembly’s immediate suspension.

Wahid became Indonesia’s first head of state in 44 years when the same assembly elected him in October 1999.

On Sunday, Wahid declared a state of emergency and ordered Indonesia’s military to dissolve the assembly. Themilitary refused and instead deployed troops and tanks to protect legislators in the capital of Jakarta. The SupremeCourt ruled earlier that Wahid has no power to block impeachment.

While ostensibly a referendum on corruption and Wahid’s sometimes erratic behavior, the Parliamentary vote alsoreflects opposition to Wahid’s attempts to reform the state bureaucracy and reign in the country’s brutal armedforces.

The Indonesian armed forces have backed Megawati in her bid to replace Wahid, raising the worrying prospect ofincreased repression in places like Aceh and West Papua, where military terror has killed thousands in recent years.

Guest:

  • Ben Anderson, Professor of Southeast Asian Studies at Cornell University and one of the world’s leadingscholars on Indonesia. Author of many books including ??Imagined Communities and ??The Specter ofComparisons.

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