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Friday, 20 July, 2001, 12:02 GMT 13:02 UK
Wahid appoints new police chief
Wahid and helpers
Wahid is desperately trying to avoid impeachment
Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid has gone ahead with the controversial installation of a new police chief.

Reports say the new chief, Chaeruddin Ismail, has been appointed in a temporary capacity.

I am virtually certain that the MPR will decide to hold the special session tomorrow

MPR speaker Amien Rais
The appointment was made despite a warning by the speaker of the upper house of parliament (MPR), Amien Rais, that it was illegal and that impeachment proceedings might be brought forward against President Wahid.

Correspondents say that by not making the appointment permanent, President Wahid has made an attempt to appease his critics.

Wahid 'trick'

But Mr Rais, said he expected the impeachment process to start on Saturday.

Police practise demonstration control
Police in Jakarta are stepping up security
He said the temporary appointment was "a trick because in practice, he [Ismail] will have the full authority of a legal national police chief".

Members of opposition parties are meeting to decide their response, which is expected later on Friday.

Parliament wants to impeach Mr Wahid over charges of corruption and incompetence. He says the charges are politically motivated.

Emergency postponed

Earlier, Mr Wahid postponed until the end of the month a threat to impose a state of emergency if parliament refused to drop its plans to impeach him on 1 August.

The president told worshippers at a mosque on Friday: "I will announce later at 1800 (1100 GMT) that if a compromise cannot be reached on 31 July, I will declare the country in a state of danger and I will declare a state of emergency."

Emergency powers would allow Mr Wahid to disband parliament before it could impeach him, and then call early elections.

Police and military chiefs have said they would not support emergency rule.

The BBC correspondent in Jakarta says Mr Wahid is trying to avoid having his bluff called by delaying the state of emergency until the day before the MPR convenes.

Security operation

Hundreds of riot police have been guarding the parliament in the capital where the MPR is due to convene for a special session on 1 August.

Vice-President Megawati Sukarnoputri
Megawati: Waiting to take over the presidency?
More than 40,000 police and troops are on standby in the capital to ensure that the special session, whenever it is held, will not be disturbed.

Some 6,000 armed police will be deployed in the parliament complex, backed by armoured vehicles, helicopters and dogs.

The Jakarta police chief has warned that protesters attempting to break into the compound will be shot on sight.

Compromise offers

But in recent days there has been much speculation that a compromise could still be reached.

One suggestion is that the president might surrender most of his executive powers to his likely successor, Vice-President Megawati Sukarnoputri, and stay on as a ceremonial head of state.

Mr Wahid has repeatedly offered to give Megawati more power in exchange for ordering her party to drop its campaign to impeach him.

Megawati has so far turned him down, and on Thursday executives of her Indonesian Democracy Party for Struggle (PDIP) said she continued to reject the proposal.

Moves towards impeachment started over Mr Wahid's alleged involvement in two corruption scandals but police and prosecutors have found no evidence of criminality.

The BBC's Richard Galpin
"Armed police are now guarding the parliament building"
The BBC's Richard Galpin
"The security minister said this would give more time for negotiations to take place"
See also:

17 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Jakarta police mount show of strength
16 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Wahid faces early impeachment
13 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Armed police defy Wahid
12 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Police feud symbolic of chaos
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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