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Wednesday, 21 March, 2001, 13:57 GMT
Political feuding 'harming Indonesia's stability'
Supporters of Mr Wahid
Fierce protests were held in Jakarta last week
Indonesia's senior security minister has warned that the fragile unity and stability of the country are being threatened by political wrangling.

President Abdurrahman Wahid
Wahid: Fighting for survival
"The internal conflict in the top elite involving their respective followers has made the situation unpredictable and might endanger the nation's unity," Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said in an address to foreign diplomats.

His comments come after a week of sometimes violent demonstrations by both supporters and opponents of President Abdurrahman Wahid, whose political future looks increasingly uncertain.

Earlier, Defence Minister Mohammad Mahfud said that the president was ready to resign, but he later backed down from his comments, which Mr Wahid's aides also refuted.


Mr Yudhoyono urged the president and his parliamentary opponents to act to prevent a slide towards anarchy.

Gus Dur supporter
There are fears that politicans cannot control their supporters
Opposition lawmakers have been moving to impeach the president, who was censured by parliament last month over his alleged role in two corruption scandals.

Mr Yudhoyono said the censure process could drag out over months, as memorandums are issued by parliament and the president responds to them.

The [censure] certainly plummeted to a certain extent the president's credibility and dignity, and has... influenced the government's crediblity

Mr Yudhoyono

Jakarta's growing political crisis has been compounded by a flagging economy and instability in far-flung provinces across the archipelago, including in the troubled, resource-rich province of Aceh.

The rupiah and the main stock index have dropped to two-year lows.

Trouble in Aceh

On Wednesday, Mr Mahfud said the government was preparing fresh moves to quell separatists in Aceh.

Violence seems to be rising in the province, and on Tuesday, two helicopters carrying a minister and aides were shot at.

Aceh demonstrator
Jakarta is accused of human rights violations in Aceh
Mr Mahfud said the separatist Free Aceh Movement was pushing for war, but the movement denied responsibility for the shooting.

Unrest in the province led to the US firm Exxon-Mobil suspending its operations in the province last week.

The company said output would be resumed at three gas fields once security improved.

The war and reprisals by the military have claimed at least 6,000 lives in the past decade, most of them civilians.

Amnesty International recently called for human rights abuses in Aceh not to be ignored as the political crisis in Jakarta takes centre stage.

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See also:

14 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Street protests continue in Jakarta
30 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Murder and rape in Aceh
15 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Mob threatens Wahid critic
12 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Wahid stands firm amid protests
13 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Indonesia's fragile archipelago
06 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Wahid's many problems
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