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Tuesday, May 12, 1998 Published at 06:45 GMT 07:45 UK

Indonesian protest gathers momentum
image: [ The BBC correspondent says this is the biggest protest in years ]
The BBC correspondent says this is the biggest protest in years

Thousands of students demanding political reform are taking part in a demonstration in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, blocking a main route out of the city. As tension mounts, the BBC Jakarta Correspondent, David Willis, who is at the scene, sent this report:

Thousands of students who have been holding a noisy demonstration on their campus in central Jakarta have now streamed onto the streets. They are currently holding a sit-down demonstration, blocking more than four lanes of traffic - that is the main road out of the city of Jakarta.

The security forces clearly had not been expecting this, and are still trying to bus in reinforcements. At the moment there is just a thin line of riot police backed by water cannon, which they have yet to use.

The students here are calling for reform and for the ousting of the country's long-serving leader, President Suharto, who is currently on a trip overseas to Egypt. What started as economic protests in Indonesia over a week ago have gathered momentum, turning into political protests.

This is the largest demonstration in central Jakarta for many years and follows often bloody demonstrations in other parts of the country, in which two people have died in the last week. Ironically this involves students from a large private university.

Many of them are middle and upper class students, some of them the sons and daughters of government officials.

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