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Tuesday, 6 August, 2002, 10:10 GMT 11:10 UK
Indonesians protest for reform
Protesters push over the compound gates
Crowds celebrated when they broke through the gates
Police have fired water cannons in Jakarta to break up angry protests by thousands of people demanding constitutional reforms.

Huge crowds of demonstrators gathered for the third day in a row and some forced their way into the compound of the parliament building where the country's highest legislative body is holding its annual two-week policy meeting.


We must have reforms or die

Protest chant

Some of the 3,000 protesters started to rock the main gates while others tried to climb over.

When the gates were forced open, police responded by firing three water cannons at the crowds who hurled water bottles back before dispersing.

No injuries or arrests were reported.

Demands

Reports said the majority of the protesters were students from Jakarta's universities.

They want the People's Consultative Assembly, which brings together 500 MPs and 200 government appointees, to adopt measures to introduce direct presidential elections.

Protesters battle spray from water cannons in Jakarta
Protesters want a directly elected president and the abolition of military seats
They are also demanding the elimination of a block of 38 seats reserved for representatives of the security forces.

"We must have reforms or die," demonstrators chanted.

While there are general agreements about the need for some constitutional changes, the specifics of the extent and timing are still hotly debated.

An amendment was passed last year to allow the people to elect a president.

But a clause stated that if the winning candidate did not get more than 50% of the vote, the final choice remained with the People's Consultative Assembly.

That clause could be scrapped and there could also be conditions introduced for all members of the assembly to be elected.

If that happened, the seats reserved for the military and police would be abolished, reining back the direct influence that Indonesia's security forces still has on the country's politics.

See also:

01 Aug 02 | Asia-Pacific
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