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Indonesia's Presidential Crisis

Indonesia's Presidential Crisis

PRESS RELEASE, The International Crisis Group (ICG)

21 February 2001 Jakarta/Brussels, 21 February 2001: With Indonesia’s first democratically-elected president, Abdurrahman Wahid, or Gus Dur as he is commonly called, facing the threat of impeachment, the International Crisis Group analyses scenarios and implications. Of serious concern to many political party leaders in Jakarta is the risk of violence between supporters and opponents of the President as the crisis drags on. Whatever the result, Indonesia is unlikely to have a government strong enough to get reform back on course. ICG’s new briefing paper, Indonesia’s Presidential Crisis, provides an authoritative description of the allegations against the President – dubbed “Bulog-gate” -- and the process of impeachment already underway. It assesses the strength and motives of the political forces ranged against him, and outlines why the president’s erratic style has cost him the support of the majority of the parliament. Those who control the fate of the presidency are the vice-president and leader of the PDI-P, Megawati Soekarnoputri, and the leaders of the former ruling party Golkar. None has at this point thrown full support behind impeachment, and ICG assesses the risks, especially for Megawati, if she were to go down that road. Gus Dur’s election in 1999 was welcomed as the beginning of a new democratic era. But ICG President Gareth Evans says, “While the President has promoted democracy, he is bereft of the managerial skills needed to run a modern state.” Indonesia’s economy is performing poorly, and the country’s stability is threatened by separatist and communal pressures. However, the president’s foes are concentrating primarily on his impulsive style and the charges that he may have acquired state funds for his own political purposes. This is a major test of Indonesia’s ability to deal with political crisis through constitutional means. ICG believes that, despite the huge drop in support for the president, efforts are still being made to find a compromise. But it is unlikely that Aburrahman Wahid will survive with his presidential powers intact, or that a successor Megawati government would have the political strength to move decisively on the stalled reform agenda.

For further information, contact Sascha Pichler at ICG Brussels tel: +32 2 502 90 38 email: mailto:

About The International Crisis Group (ICG):

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