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Thursday, 21 October, 1999, 04:59 GMT 05:59 UK
Indonesian poll sparks violence
Riot police stumble as they clash with protesters
Riot police stumble as they clash with protesters
A moderate Muslim leader has been sworn in as the new president of Indonesia following a shock parliamentary vote that sparked violence in the capital Jakarta.

Indonesia Flashpoints
Abdurrahman Wahid defeated the people's favourite, Megawati Sukarnoputri, by 373 votes to 313.

Shortly after the result was announced, two bombs went off in the city. At least two people are reported to have been killed and eight seriously injured.

The first explosion was a suspected car bomb that went off near parliament. A second blast occurred outside the Hilton Hotel.

The explosions happened as an estimated 10,000 Megawati supporters marched on police lines near parliament. Security forces fired tear gas and warning shots as protesters hurled stones and petrol bombs.

The crowds set a huge convention centre alight, and gunfire erupted at several points around the city. Gangs were reported to roaming streets trying to hijack cars.

A number of wounded protesters fled the hospital where they were receiving treatment, when it was raided by police.

The two bombs followed a separate blast earlier in the day in the city centre.

Military reaction

Mr Wahid will serve for a five-year term as Indonesia's fourth president, taking over from President BJ Habibie.

The car bomb went off near parliament
The car bomb went off near parliament
Indonesia's politically powerful military was quick to welcome the election of the Muslim cleric.

Military chief General Wiranto said he was willing to serve as vice-president if accepted by all factions in the People's Consultative Assembly.

International reaction was also positive.US President Bill Clinton said he was encouraged by the result, saying that the last two days had given hope that the country was "on the way back".

The International Monetary Fund congratulated Mr Wahid and said it was ready to work with Jakarta to relaise Indonesia's immense economic potential.

Indonesia's neighbours including Japan, Australia, Malaysia and Thailand have also welcomed the election.

At his swearing in ceremony, Mr Wahid vowed to defend the integrity of the territory of Indonesia against "other countries that sometimes underestimate our feelings and dignity".

"We believe that good relations with other countries must be based on the principle of mutual respect," he said.

He also expressed gratitude to Megawati, who he said had ''[passed] the test of democratic life".

Call for unity

The atmosphere in parliament was electric as each vote was individually recorded, with the two candidates neck-and-neck for most of the count.

Mr Wahid called for calm immediately after his victory
Mr Wahid called for calm immediately after his victory
Megawati stood silent and apparently close to tears as the result was announced.

Immediately after the announcement, Mr Wahid promised to go with Megawati to calm her supporters.

Megawati conceded defeat and called for unity.

"For the sake of the integrity of the nation, I urge all Indonesians to understand the situation," she said.

Muslim votes

Megawati's Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle won the largest share of the vote in the June elections, but failed to build a firm coalition with other parties in the assembly.

Mr Wahid, better known as Gus Dur, founded Indonesia's largest Muslim party, the National Awakening Party, which came third in the parliamentary elections.

They were the only two candidates for the presidency, after the former ruling party Golkar decided not to field a candidate in place of President Habibie.

The BBC Jakarta correspondent Jonathan Head says it was probably the votes of the Golkar MPs which were crucial for Mr Wahid.

The Muslim-based Crescent and Star Party also supported him after Muslim protesters warned they could not accept a woman as president.

The fast-moving political events in Indonesia were reflected in its financial markets.

Share prices in Jakarta initially rose by as much as 10% in anticipation of a victory for Megawati, but lost most of their gains after the result came through.

Ill health

Megawati supporters carry off a wounded colleague
Megawati supporters carry off a wounded colleague
Mr Wahid, 59, is in fragile health with very poor eyesight, but has long been seen as a potent force in Indonesian politics.

He wields considerable moral authority as the leader of the 40 million people belonging to his party.

He also gained increased prestige for his opposition to former President Suharto, but since Suharto's fall from power, Mr Wahid has counselled conciliation.

President's failings

Mr Habibie withdrew his candidacy late on Tuesday following strong criticism over his failure to curb corruption and his handling of the East Timor crisis.

He announced he would pull out of the race after parliament rejected his account of his 17-month rule.

Mr Habibie said: "I believe that many sons and daughters of Indonesia can do the job better than I have done."

"I'm happy that democracy has started in Indonesia, and I hope this will continue whoever the new president is.''

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Video
The BBC's Matt Frei: "A presidency born in blood"
Audio
The BBC's Matt Frei explains the role of Megawati Sukarnoputri
See also:

19 Oct 99 | Asia-Pacific
20 Oct 99 | Asia-Pacific
20 Oct 99 | Asia-Pacific
20 Oct 99 | Asia-Pacific
20 Oct 99 | Asia-Pacific
20 Oct 99 | Profiles
20 Oct 99 | Asia-Pacific
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