Page last updated at 11:55 GMT, Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Protests greet Indonesia Bank Century hearing


Police fired tear gas and water cannons at the demonstrators

Indonesia's parliament has failed to reach a consensus on whether to condemn two top government figures over a controversial 2008 bank bailout.

The MPs were debating whether Vice-President Boediono and Finance Minister Sri Mulyani acted legally over the Bank Century bailout.

Outside parliament, police fired tear gas and water cannons as hundreds of protesters threw rocks and sticks.

The bitter political conflict has plagued the government for months.

The bailout, at the height of the global financial crisis, cost $720m (£487m).

The BBC's Rebecca Henschke in Jakarta says parliament descended into chaos after the bailout failed to reach a unanimous decision on whether Ms Mulyani and Mr Boediono misused their power to bailout a small and insignificant bank.

They already failed with their policies that harm this country

Angry parliamentarians stormed the speaker of the house Marzuki Ali as he closed the session. They were demanding criminal proceedings against Mr Boediono and Ms Indrawati.

The vote on the legality of the bailout was postponed until Wednesday.

Outside parliament, angry protesters hurled rocks and bamboo sticks clashed with riot police.

"We are demanding and urge Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his cabinet to resign, because they already failed with their policies that harm this country," said one protester.


The eventual cost of the bailout increased tenfold from its original estimate.

Protesters demanding inquiry into the Bank Century scandal - 6 December 2009

It has been alleged that after the bailout, some of the bank's wealthy clients donated money to the president's election campaign.

The government insists the bailout protected Indonesia from the global financial crisis.

Breaking months of silence, President Suslio Bambang Yudoyono said on Monday that the decision prevented a collapse of the banking sector.

The conflict highlights tensions between Mr Yudhoyono's Democrat Party and his two main coalition partners - the Golkar Party and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS).

Golkar and the PKS joined the opposition in calling for a criminal investigation by law enforcement agencies.

Golkar, now headed by tycoon Aburizal Bakrie, dominated politics for decades under former President Suharto.

"The parliament can't compel the president to do anything, much less launch an investigation. It's very much posturing," Jakarta-based political risk analyst Kevin O'Rourke told Reuters.

The case has dominated Indonesia media for months.

The inquiry is being closely watched by investors who widely support Ms Mulyani as finance minister, says our correspondent.

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