Crowds have been rioting through the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, demanding that President Suharto stands down. Correspondents describe the situation as close to anarchy. People appear to have lost their fear of the authorities and have been looting at will.
Over the past few weeks a tide of protests has been sweeping across Indonesia's universities. Crowds of students chanting anti-government slogans have found themselves facing ranks of heavily armed troops and riot police.
The demonstrations remained peaceful until May 12 when troops and riot police opened fire and beat the students with clubs. Six people died. It was the
the worst violence to take place during the three-month campaign of protest for
The country's Foreign Minister, Ali Alatas, spoke about the unrest on Wednesday while attending a conference in Cairo. He said the government regretted the loss of life but said security forces had to restore order.
The head of Indonesia's armed forces, General Wiranto, has appealed for an end to protests by students. Speaking on May 7th, he said the military would soon be putting forward its own proposals for reform. But he said these would have to be
implemented gradually and constitutionally.
Amien Rais, a leading Muslim intellectual, used to side with the
government, but has now become one of its principal foes. But in a society
which normally believes in compromise and not confrontation, he is a reluctant
A spoksman for the Indonesian opposition figure Megawati Sukarnoputri said on Wednesday 13 May that the opposition's resolve had been hardened by the shootings on the streets and that immediate reforms were now essential.