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The BBC's Richard Galpin
"These are not empty threats by Mr Wahid"
 real 56k

Thursday, 19 April, 2001, 05:27 GMT 06:27 UK
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Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid has issued a blunt warning to parliament not to try to impeach him over corruption allegations.

He said hundreds of thousands of his supporters were now ready to march on the capital, Jakarta, to protect him.

The parliament has been irresponsible to the extent that they want to make the president fall down

President Wahid
The threat was made during a speech opening a high-profile conference attended by leading businessmen, policy makers and academics.

Already, thousands of President Wahid's supporters have been receiving military-style training in East Java, saying they will fight to the death to prevent him being forced out of office.

BBC Jakarta correspondent Richard Galpin says it is a measure of just how serious the political crisis has now become that the president has felt the need to make such a dramatic statement in front of such a prestigious audience.

Rebellion against parliament

He told the conference his supporters were already moving on the capital and that as of Wednesday 400,000 people had proclaimed their loyalty to him from all over Java and Sumatra.

President Wahid
Mr Wahid is suffering from a range of health problems
And this, he said, did not include people in the capital itself.

He described all this as a nationwide rebellion against parliament.

"The parliament has been irresponsible to the extent that they want to make the president fall down," he said.

In 10 days' time members of parliament are due to debate whether to issue a second formal censure against Mr Wahid over the allegations of corruption he is facing.

If that motion is passed, then it will be almost certain that the president will face impeachment proceedings, which could see him thrown out of office within a few months.

'Illegal' moves

At present there is no sign that top political leaders will be meeting any time soon to find a peaceful negotiated settlement to this mounting crisis. So Mr Wahid's only strategy to save his presidency seems to be the use of threats and intimidation, correspondents say.

Wahid supporters
Wahid supporters say they will not stand for his impeachment
As he again stated in this speech, he believes the attempts to remove him from office are illegal.

He argues that under the present constitution he could only be toppled before the end of his term in 2004 if he committed treason.

"The second memorandum (of censure) is unnecessary and wrong... according to the constitution the president has the right to govern to the end of his term," he said.

But parliament does not agree and, our correspondent says, it seems a potentially violent confrontation between the two sides is now almost inevitable.

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See also:

12 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
Wahid orders Aceh crackdown
18 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Violence spirals in troubled Aceh
30 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Murder and rape in Aceh
14 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Street protests continue in Jakarta
12 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Wahid stands firm amid protests
13 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Indonesia's fragile archipelago
16 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
New Aceh ceasefire agreed
06 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Wahid's many problems
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