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Saturday, May 9, 1998 Published at 16:23 GMT 17:23 UK

I'm not against reform, says Suharto
image: [ Female students wearing traditional Muslim dress block traffic during a protest in Jakarta ]
Female students wearing traditional Muslim dress block traffic during a protest in Jakarta

President Suharto of Indonesia has called for stability after several days of demonstrations and riots in opposition to his rule.

[ image: Officials bid President Suharto (right) bon voyage]
Officials bid President Suharto (right) bon voyage
Speaking before leaving for Egypt on his first trip abroad for several months, Mr Suharto said he was not opposed to reforming the political system, and some laws which have been the target of demonstrating students could be changed.

But he warned that the security forces would take action against those who disturbed national stability.

In Egypt, Mr Suharto will attend next week's summit of developing countries known as the Group of 15.

Foreign and Trade ministers from Asia, Africa and Latin America have been meeting in Cairo to prepare for the meeting, which is expected to focus on how the group can improve its share of world trade, and on the financial crisis in Asia.

The Egyptian Foreign Minister, Amr Mousa, said economic concerns should not make people close their eyes to the social dimension of development.

  • The G-15 comprises 16 countries : Algeria, Egypt, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Kenya, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Jamaica, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Venezuela

Protests escalate

Student demonstrations against President Suharto's government escalated on Friday with battles with police on university campuses all over Indonesia.

[ image: A burning effigy]
A burning effigy
In the latest unrest, one man was killed and several injured by rubber-coated bullets. The authorities have denied reports of other deaths during demonstrations earlier in the week.

Protesters again took to the streets despite a tentative offer of political reforms by the country's powerful military elite.

At a university in the city of Solo in central Java, a crowd of about 2,000 students hurled stones at riot police, who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.

At least 15 people were reported to have been seriously injured. In the capital, Jakarta, police battled with students who burnt an effigy of President Suharto, and arrested more than 100.

More were detained briefly after a rally outside parliament.

[ image: A stand-off with riot police in Jakarta]
A stand-off with riot police in Jakarta
In a sign of spreading discontent, doctors and nurses marched to protest price increases in the city of Surabaya, and bus drivers joined students at a Jakarta rally.

There were also anti-government demonstrations in Padang, Yogyakarta, Samarinda, Ujungpandang, and again in Indonesia's third city, Medan, which has been the scene of the most violent confrontations between protesters and the security forces.

The student protests began in February over Indonesia's economic crisis and quickly turned into demands that President Suharto quit, after 32 years in power, to take responsibility for big job losses, soaring prices and the collapse of the rupiah.

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In this section

Suharto's day of reckoning

Death toll reaches 200

Riots too hot for business

Chinese targeted by Jakarta rioters

Chronology of people's revolt

Riots force Indonesian leader home early

Indonesian Muslim leader says Suharto should go