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The BBC's Simon Ingram
"It's a very bizarre situation"
 real 28k

Friday, 13 July, 2001, 07:38 GMT 08:38 UK
Armed police defy Wahid
Police squad outside Jakarta home of General Suroyo Bimantoro
Police are protecting the general's home
Facing open defiance from the police, Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid has said he will go ahead with his threat to declare a state of emergency unless MPs abandon moves to impeach him.

My reply [to the president's allegations] is: Ha ha ha

Jakarta police chief, Major General Sofyan Yacob
As dozens of armed police formed a protective cordon around the home of the national police chief, the president repeated his demand that he be allowed him to complete his term of office until 2004.

But according to a newspaper report, Vice-President Megawati Sukarnoputri - who is widely expected to be the next president - has told her party impeachment is "unavoidable".

Squads from the elite police mobile squad arrived at the home of Police General Suroyo Bimantoro at sunset on Thursday.

Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid
Mr Wahid is looking increasingly isolated
They said they had been ordered to protect General Bimantoro's home from any threat. It followed reports that Mr Wahid had ordered his arrest.

General Bimantoro, who is currently abroad, has refused to step down after being sacked from his post last month. President Wahid has ordered legal measures to be taken against him for insubordination, but reports of an arrest warrant were denied by a presidential spokesman.

Troops were also reported to be protecting the home of Jakarta police chief, Major General Sofyan Yacob.

President Wahid has accused both men of plotting against him and planning his detention ahead of impeachment proceedings that are due to start next month.

Impeachment 'within hours'

The People's Consultative Assembly, Indonesia's highest legislative body, is demanding that Mr Wahid make an accountability speech on 1 August over allegations of corruption and incompetence during his 20-month rule.

"The party has been observing the president and concluded that the special session cannot be avoided.

Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri
However Mr Wahid on Friday continued to press for a compromise, and said MPs must sign written guarantees that they will not move against him.

"If not, on 20 July at 6pm (1100 GMT) I will declare a state of emergency," he said.

In a series of ultimatums he has also threatened to call early parliamentary elections.

However the Assembly chairman, Amien Rais immediately denounced the latest threat.

General Suroyo Bimantoro
General Bimantoro is thought to be in Singapore
He warned that the assembly was prepared to go into session "within one or two hours" of any declaration of an emergency and immediately sack the president.

The Jakarta Post newspaper quoted Ms Megawati as telling regional leaders of her Indonesian Democratic Party Struggle (PDIP): "The party has been observing the president and concluded that the special session cannot be avoided.

"It is not a sudden decision, it is not a reactive decision or just a fashionable decision," she was reported as saying.

Correspondents say the threat of legal action is an attempt by Mr Wahid to shore up his fading authority.

The police chief, General Suroyo Bimantoro, is reported to be in Singapore for a medical check up. He says he will not step down because the president needs approval from parliament, which has publicly backed the general.

In Jakarta, General Yacob told the privately-owned SCTV television station: "My reply [to the president's allegations] is: Ha ha ha."

The police and military, who appear to be supporting Ms Megawati have repeatedly said they will not enforce a state of emergency.

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See also:

12 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Armed police defy Wahid
12 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Police feud symbolic of chaos
21 Oct 99 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: New hope for Indonesia?
21 Oct 99 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Indonesia's Islamic presidency?
31 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Indonesia's power vacuum
30 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Testing Indonesia's democracy
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