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The BBC's Samantha Simmonds
"Thousands of the President's supporters are vowing to stop by whatever means any attempt to remove him from power"
 real 56k

Bambang Harymurti, Editor, Tempo news magazine
"There's still a possibility that he still has some sort of trick up his sleeve"
 real 28k

The BBC's Richard Galpin in Jakarta
"President Wahid is saying he's rather confused about what he's being accused of"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 30 May, 2001, 06:45 GMT 07:45 UK
Analysis: Testing Indonesia's democracy
Wahid supporters in Jakarta
The president's supporters have gone on the rampage
By Jonathan Head in Jakarta

The Indonesian Parliament decision to press ahead with impeachment proceedings against President Wahid, is yet another test for Indonesia's young democracy.

The country's scarce experience of democratic rule means that parliamentarians have few guidelines to help them in their campaign to force Mr Wahid from power.

The 1945 constitution, a sketchy document drawn up in haste at the start of Indonesia's independence struggle 56 years ago, does not actually mention impeachment.

President Wahid asleep in the Indonesian Parliament
Wahid dozing in the Indonesian Parliament
Instead, it allows the country's highest legislative body, the People's Consultative Assembly or MPR, to hold a special meeting, during which it can demand that the president step down.

Under the regime of former President Suharto, this was impossible because he appointed half of the 1,000 members of the MPR, and the parliament - which provided the other half - was effectively controlled by the government.

Wahid cornered

Today though, there are only 700 members of the MPR, and most factions in the 500-seat parliament have already decided to push for Mr Wahid's removal.

That leaves the embattled president few options.

His threat to impose emergency rule and dissolve parliament last week came to nothing, because neither his cabinet nor the military supported it.

There is still the possibility of violent protests by Mr Wahid's supporters, and the likelihood that his almost certain successor, Vice-President Megawati Sukarnoputri, will also face challenges from the parliament in the future.

But the fact that the politicians are still committed to following legal procedures is progress of a sort in a country where the rule of law is so weak.

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See also:

30 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Indonesia braced for anti-Wahid vote
28 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Wahid cleared of corruption
22 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Supreme Court option for Wahid
21 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Megawati puts pressure on Wahid
19 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Megawati in urgent talks with military
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