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Saturday, August 05, 2000, updated at 14:48(GMT+8)

Indonesia Prepares for Assembly's Annual Session

As Indonesia's national flag of "the Merah Putih" was hoisted at the front yard of the Parliament Building in South Jakarta, various big posters were put up to welcome the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) annual session to be held from August 7 to 18.

The 10-day session, seen as an important event for the country's future development, will listen to President Abdurrahman Wahid's working report and make amendments to some articles of the 1945 constitution including a direct election for the country's president and vice president in the 2004 general election.

The Indonesian people, who have been waiting for the forthcoming annual session of the MPR, the country's highest law-making body, hoped that an active result could be produced by the Assembly members.

The session will be the first ever staged by the Assembly within one year after it was established. An assembly session used to be held once every five years.

Sources at the Assembly's office said that in a bid to make the meeting successful, at least 1,400 people have been hired during the session along with 250 employees of the Assembly's secretariat.

About 1,600 security forces, military and police officers are being deployed to help secure the session and safeguard the participants of the Assembly, while as many as 1,884 local journalists and 262 foreign journalists are expected to cover the event.

Meanwhile, Chief of the National Police General Roesdihardjo has also said that the police will deploy at least 68,000 personnel nationwide to back up the session, and in the capital itself 19,000 police personnel and 4,000 military personnel will be deployed to protect Jakarta against any unexpected incidents.

It seems that many parties at home and abroad really want to know what is going to happen during the session.

Some people, particularly those who supported Wahid in the last October presidential election, are worried about an impeachment motion against the president voiced earlier by some MPR members.

Since May this year, the political struggle among the rival parties has been going on in the country as the political and economic reforms launched by the government had encroached on the interests of the people of "status quo" headed by former president Soeharto. They criticized Wahid for his failure in dealing with thorny problems facing the country like the prolonged economic and political crisis and wide spread communal conflicts in various areas which have claimed thousands of lives and damaged the country's social and economical infrastructure.

In this critical situation, many people paid close attention to the political destiny of President Wahid who was elected democratically and represents the reformist force in the country. According to the Indonesian constitution, a president should serve the country five years in one term. The president could be replaced halfway only if he or she violates the constitution.

Different parties have different views on the work of the president. Some of his rivals said that Wahid should account for his failure in dealing with issues like bringing former president Soeharto to justice; putting an end to the prolonged communal bloodshed in the riot-torn provinces of Maluku and North Maluku provinces; and stabilizing the country's currency of rupiah which has deeply hampered the ongoing economic recovery process over past three years.

They even urged the Assembly to remove its mandate granted to Wahid in last October and require Megawati Soekarnoputeri, the vice President, to take reign as president.

However, many parties held that President Wahid and his government had made great achievements in carrying out democracy and recovering the economy as well as reopening good relations with the international community. Although the president has some shortcomings in his work, the piled-up problems left by the former governments could not be resolved in a short time. They warned that if the president is toppled unconstitutionally, the country will drop into a grave chaos. Therefor, keep the president until 2004 or at the expiration of his term of office will be in the interests of the majority of the people and the nation.

Last week, all factions in the Assembly agreed not to endorse the proposal for impeaching the president and turning the forthcoming annual session into a special session.

On August 1, the country's four most influential national leaders, namely the President, Vice President, the House Speaker and the Assembly Chairman, met in Yogyakarta and agreed to ease political tension and renewed their commitment to the reform movement and pledged to be united to focus on the reform programs.

The leaders also agreed to consider the MPR session as "an ordinary session" during which incumbent president will not be impeached.

A political science lecturer of the University of Indonesia, Arbi Sanit said that Wahid will survive any problems that will be raised during the next week's MPR session. Some observers noted that there is no way to oust the president who gets full support from most of the people in the country.

It was reported that the presidential annual report to the MPR has been finalized. And the president said Friday that his report will focus on inter-religious tolerance, the supremacy of the law and equality.

"I do not care about the contents of the progress report, but (I must say) those three things should be included. If they are materialized, we will live in peace and be broad-minded," Wahid said.

The president said he would not leave the country he leads in poverty, and he would like to see it become a great nation in the world.

In This Section

As Indonesia's national flag of "the Merah Putih" was hoisted at the front yard of the Parliament Building in South Jakarta, various big posters were put up to welcome the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) annual session to be held from August 7 to 18.

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