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Monday, 23 July, 2001, 17:05 GMT 18:05 UK
Analysis: What now for Megawati?
Megawati (left) and assembly chairman Amien Rais (right)
Megawati is the daughter of former President Sukarno
Indonesia's political crisis may be on its way to being resolved with the swearing in of Megawati Sukarnoputri as the country's fifth president. But she has many challenges ahead, as Nicholas Nugent reports from Jakarta.

Megawati Sukarnoputri, the daughter of the man Indonesians still revere as their independence leader and first president, knows better than most what it is to lead a country as vast and problematical as Indonesia.

Yet it was only in relatively recent times that she entered political life herself.

Now she is being given the chance to lead the world's fourth most populous nation of 210 million out of economic stagnation and regional conflict.

Abdurrahman Wahid fell because he was adjudged to have failed in these challenges.

Soldiers in Jakarta
Megawati has the support of the army
Megawati, as she is widely known, starts with the advantage of massive support - both in parliament and in the country at large.

What is unclear is how much of this derives from affection for her respected and charismatic father, how much is antipathy to the ineffectual rule of Wahid and how much is genuine confidence in her ability to succeed where Wahid failed.

As vice-president she was a key member of Wahid's team, so she deserves to bear some blame for its failures.


She has a reputation of being reluctant to speak, giving rise to the joke amongst Indonesians that she was the dumb aide leading the nearly blind Wahid

She has a reputation of being reluctant to speak, giving rise to the joke amongst Indonesians that she was the dumb aide leading the nearly blind Wahid.

Her supporters see this as a positive Javanese quality, demonstrating a careful thoughtfulness.

Those who elected her to power will expect her to play a more strategic, behind-the-scenes role, as they had encouraged Wahid to do on several occasions.

Economy a top challenge

Top of the list of challenges is to rescue the country's economy, still faltering from the 1997 Asian economic crisis.

A deal with the International Monetary Fund to release a new tranche of funding is considered an urgent priority, but this depends on progress being made towards disposing of bankrupted state assets.

The second most urgent problem is the serious alienation of the people of one of the country's richest provinces, the north Sumatran state of Aceh, which separatists are threatening to take out of Indonesia.


The country [Wahid] hands over to Megawati is a much more democratic nation, where the process of political accountability is beginning to work, as he found out to his cost

Their open warfare against the Indonesian army continues to cause heavy loss of life - 20 civilians were reported killed there in the latter half of July.

Other regional problems need solving, but under Wahid, Megawati already had responsibility for tackling communal warfare between Muslims and Christians in Maluku, as well as separatist pressures in mineral rich West Irian.

Indonesians are hoping she can unite the country like her father did more than 50 years ago.

Wahid's achievements

Wahid failed in these important respects, but deserves to be credited for some achievements.

Notable amongst them was taking the army out of politics.

It had been the power behind the presidency throughout the Suharto era.

President Abdurrahman Wahid
Wahid deserves to be credited for some achievements
He nearly lost this important legacy by trying to call on the armed forces to back him against impeachment.

Another legacy is the way that, after the Suharto years, Wahid started the country on a path of reform.

The country he hands over to Megawati is a much more democratic nation, where the process of political accountability is beginning to work, as he found out to his cost.

Indonesia now has one of the freest presses in South-East Asia, for example.

Megawati will be expected to continue and perhaps accelerate this process.


Apart from her famous father, Megawati's enormous popular support is her major asset. But she will be expected to deliver speedy results if she is to retain this

Priorities will be to establish the rule of law and find ways of ending the corruption that pervades the law enforcement agencies and all other departments of the administration.

Apart from her famous father, Megawati's enormous popular support is her major asset. But she will be expected to deliver speedy results if she is to retain this.

The People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) have said they will allow her to complete the current presidential term of office, which lasts until October 2004.

But they elected Wahid to rule for five years, then, 21 months on, changed their minds.

Megawati starts her tenure under the same notice - that her mandate could just as easily be withdrawn.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Clive Myrie
"The game has been up for Mr Wahid for almost a year"
The BBC's Peter Hiett
looks at Megawati Sukarnoputri's life and political career to date
The BBC's Jim Fish
looks at Mr Wahid's time in office
See also:

23 Jul 01 | Media reports
Megawati's acceptance speech: Text
20 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Wahid appoints new police chief
16 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Wahid faces early impeachment
23 Jul 01 | Business
Indonesian markets rise
13 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Armed police defy Wahid
12 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Police feud symbolic of chaos
31 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Indonesia's power vacuum
30 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Testing Indonesia's democracy
21 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Indonesia's political turmoil
23 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Indonesian military holds key to power
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