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Saturday, May 23, 1998 Published at 08:32 GMT 09:32 UK


New president sets out his stall

President Habibie spoke to the people just hours after replacing Mr Suharto

The newly-installed president of Indonesia, BJ Habibie, has promised to press ahead with reforms to solve the economic and political crisis the country is facing.


President Habibie's speech in full
Speaking in a televised address just hours after Mr Suharto stepped down in the face of continuing mass protests, Mr Habibie said he would take strong action against corruption and nepotism.

Click here for a profile of the new president

He also promised to carry out all the economic reforms agreed with the International Monetary Fund.


BBC correspondent Simon Ingram: "People are holding judgement for the moment"
Mr Habibie said the people must recover quickly from the economic and political crisis the country was facing.

"I expect the support of all the Indonesian people so that together we can emerge from the crisis which we have been facing, and which has almost paralyzed all aspects of our national life," he said.


Indonesian affairs analyst Damon Bristow: "This was only the first stage of transition"
Mr Habibie praised the student protests, saying their struggle to accelerate the process of reform represented a fresh current that would take Indonesia into the next century.

Click here for the full text of President Habibie's speech

Mr Habibie also praised his predecessor, President Suharto, and spoke of his deepest gratitude to him for all the dedication and service Mr Suharto had given to Indonesia.

Opposition scepticism


Amien Rais: "Habibie must form an acceptable cabinet"
Responding to the speech, the man who has emerged as the main opposition leader, Amien Rais, said in a BBC interview he was not sure whether Mr Habibie would be able to carry through reforms.

He said the new cabinet would need to consist of people untainted by corruption, and he repeated his call for elections to be held within six months.

"If the cabinet turns out to be unprofessional and still nepotistic and still full of collusion then people will automatically lose their trust in Mr Habibie," Dr Rais said.


[ image: Amien Rais: waits to see what the new government is like]
Amien Rais: waits to see what the new government is like
A list of new ministers is expected on Friday morning.

Dr Rais heads a moderate muslim organisation that has nearly 30 million members. He has called for fresh elections soon and later an investigation of Mr Suharto's record once stability has returned to the country.

It is still not clear if elections promised before Mr Suharto resigned will go ahead. An adviser to Mr Habibie, Dewi Fortuna Anwar, said this would be unconstitutional as polls were held on nine months ago.

"Controversial choice"


Habibie spokeswoman Dewi Fortuna Anwar: "No need for fresh elections"
The BBC correspondents say Mr Habibie is a controversial choice for president. He is seen as a close associate of Mr Suharto and many people are questioning how long he will remain in power because of his role in the previous government.

The army has said it views Mr Habibie's appointment as a positive development.

Students who occupied parliament on Monday demanding Mr Suharto's resignation appear to be split on whether to support Mr Habibie or not although the streets were quiet on Thursday evening and rioting had stopped.





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