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Thursday, 26 October, 2000, 11:40 GMT 12:40 UK
'Time running out' for Wahid
Wahid falls asleep in parliament
Critics say President Wahid is unfit to hold office
The speaker of the Indonesian national legislature has said he believes President Abudurrahman Wahid's days in office are numbered, little more than a year after he took power.

It is now clear that Gus Dur cannot last much longer

Amien Rais
According to reports in the Indonesian press on Thursday, Amien Rais told a group of Muslim students that in certain respects Mr Wahid's administration was worse than that of former President Suharto.

"It is now clear that Gus Dur cannot last much longer," he said, using a popular nickname for President Wahid.

Mr Rais, who played a leading role in the opposition uprising that brought about Mr Suharto's downfall, added that he regretted supporting Mr Wahid's nomination for the presidency following the 1999 election.

Amien Raid and Abdurrahman Wahid
Amien Rais (left) says he now regrets backing Mr Wahid for the presidency
"I apologise to the whole of the Indonesian people for having proposed [Wahid] for president at the 1999 MPR Session," he is quoted as saying.

"It is because we are human and we can make mistakes."

According to the Indonesian language Banjarmasin Post, Mr Rais now intends to "atone for his sin" by staying on as speaker in order to prepare for a possible special session of the legislature which could impeach the president.

Enduring crisis

He said the recent financial scandals surrounding the president would provide the rationale for holding such a session.

Suharto protest Jakarta
Street protests are an almost daily occurence across Indonesia
He added a warning that if President Wahid were to see out his term of office, Indonesia would risk losing another two provinces or could even fall apart altogether.

President Wahid's first year in office has seen a resurgence of separatism and inter-ethnic clashes in Indonesia's outer provinces, which have been exacerbated by the country's continuing economic crisis.

The post said Mr Rais told the meeting of Muslim students that he felt he had to accept responsibility for proposing Mr Wahid, a former Muslim cleric, as presidential candidate in 1999.

The decision by Indonesian lawmakers to appoint Mr Wahid, who is frail and nearly blind, was greeted with surprise by many observers.

His election was also a shock to millions of Indonesians who had given their backing to Megawati Sukarnoputri, the long-time opposition leader and daughter of Indonesia's first president.

Mr Rais who had hoped to be a presidential candidate himself saw his hopes dashed when his party won just 6% of the vote in the June 1999 parliamentary elections.

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See also:

20 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Wahid marks tricky first year
10 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Scandal probe to quiz Wahid
29 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Judges dismiss Suharto case
06 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Wahid's many problems
27 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Indonesian president under scrutiny
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