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As protests rage, Indonesia OKs pol

Subject: As protests rage, Indonesia OKs political reform 

               As protests rage, Indonesia
               OKs political reform

               November 13, 1998
               Web posted at: 12:14 p.m. EST (1714 GMT) 

               In this story:

                    Deadly clashes 
                    Elections due next year 
                    Military to remain in politics 
                    Suharto probe possible 
                    Related stories and sites 

               JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNN) -- Pressed by bloody protests
raging on the
               streets, Indonesia's highest legislative body on Friday
endorsed plans to usher in
               a new era of political reform after decades of virtual
one-man rule. A call for
               new elections was approved but an effort to remove the
military from politics
               was defeated. 

               The 1,000-member People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) also
named former
               President Suharto in a decree demanding the government
investigate corruption
               under his 32 years in power. 

                                         Thousands of troops and police
protected the
                                         assembly as it ended four days of
                                         among five factions. It passed 11
                                         decrees unanimously, while the
12th and final
                                         decree passed after a rare formal

                                         Deadly clashes

                                         As the assembly acted in downtown
                                         violent clashes continued nearby.
                                         troops opened fire on student
protesters who
                                         also fought with pro-government

                                         Officials said at least nine
people were killed
                                         Friday, bringing the known death
toll to 11 in
                                         a week of protests. It was not
                                         clear how many of the dead were
students or
                                         pro-government activists. Scores
of others
                                         were wounded. 

                                         A solemn-faced President B.J. Habibie
                                         expressed his condolences to the
families of
                                         the dead and injured during a
                                         address, during which he accepted and
                                         praised the results of the MPR

               The protesters have been pushing for radical political

               Elections due next year

               The assembly backed a plan to hold parliamentary elections
in either May or
               June and to open the ballot to a wide range of new political
parties. But it did not
               set a date for the poll. 

               Habibie has pledged to bring a level of
               democracy to the country of 200 million

               Assembly members, many of them
               holdovers from the authoritarian Suharto
               era, hailed the decrees as major reforms,
               pointing to their demands for greater
               human rights and economic restructuring. 

               But students and other critics said they
               did not represent major democratic change and only
entrenched the power of
               the status quo, including Habibie, the military and the
ruling Golkar Party. 

               Military to remain in politics

               The assembly's aim for total consensus stumbled when the
               United Development Party (PPP) opposed allowing the powerful
military to
               keep its 75 seats in the country's 500-seat Parliament. 

               The PPP, which backed student demands for the immediate end
to the military's
               political involvement, lost the assembly vote. However, the
role of the military,
               which long propped up the now discredited Suharto regime,
will gradually be
               reduced to 55 seats. 

               MPR decrees supersede any laws passed by parliament. 

               Under Suharto, the assembly was infamous for being a rubber
stamp grouping.
               Friday's action was the first time in about three decades
that the assembly was
               forced to stage a formal vote and failed to reach total
agreement on any issue.
               Still, the decree was passed 784 to 123. 

               Suharto probe possible

               After a protracted debate the assembly named Suharto as
among those who
               could be investigated in efforts to eradicate corruption in
business and

                                            However, this fell short of
demands by
                                            thousands of protesting
students who
                                            want the former autocrat put on
trial for
                                            enriching himself and his
family during his
                                            32-year rule. 

                                            Suharto, 77, was forced to quit
last May
                                            after riots and protests. Since
then he has
                                            protested his innocence. 

                                            A government anti-corruption
               investigation, rejected by critics as a whitewash, has yet
to uncover any evidence
               of wrongdoing by him. 

               The decree calls on Habibie's government to eradicate and
investigate corruption
               by "former state officials, their families or cronies and
private businesses as well
               as conglomerates -- including former President Suharto." 

               It added that such an investigation should take into account
the presumption of
               innocence and human rights. 

               Other assembly-passed reforms include limiting presidential
terms to two
               five-year periods, handing greater responsibility to the
provinces, and tackling
               corruption and economic disparity. 

                  Jakarta Bureau Chief Maria Ressa, The Associated Press
and Reuters
                                   contributed to this report.

               Related stories: 

                    Indonesia troops fire on student protesters - November
12, 1998
                    Thousands of students march against Indonesian assembly
- November 12,
                    Violence rocks Jakarta for second straight day -
November 11, 1998 
                    Indonesian assembly convenes; street clashes reported -
November 10,

               Related sites: 

               Note: Pages will open in a new browser window 

                    Indonesia Internet Information Center - starting point
for information about
                    DKI Jakarta - official Web site of the capital city of
the Republic of
                    Indonesia Times Online - English language daily 
                    AsianNet - Indonesia Home Page 

                                      External sites are not
                                   endorsed by CNN Interactive.


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