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Indonesia

Yearbook 1996

1996 IndonesiaIndonesia. In Indonesia the military-dominated regime has for decades ensured that no opposition statements disturbed the image of a people in complete harmony with the official state ideology. In the protection of a totalitarian system, the economy has made a spectacular upswing in recent years. But in 1996, 75-year-old President Suharto, whose position of power has not been threatened in 30 years, became a challenger. The 49-year-old housewife Megawati Sukarnoputri had no political credentials and was not a great speaker, but she was the daughter of the country's mythical first president, Sukarno. Wide population strata, increasingly frustrated by political freedom and the corruption of the elite, turned to her in a combination of nostalgia and the dream of something new. She was the leader of the Democratic Party, Partai Demokrasi Indonesia (PDI), one of the two legal "opposition parties" created by the regime to shine a democratic system. Now, harmless PDI suddenly became so dangerous that the regime organized an extra party congress in June where Megawati was deposed.

1996 Indonesia

According to Countryaah.com, the intervention against Megawati triggered the strongest protests against the regime since it came to power in 1966. For two days at the end of July, Jakarta was shaken by crowds after the military expelled the Megawati supporters who occupied PDI's headquarters for over a month. At least two people were killed and about fifty injured. The unrest caused material damage to the multi-million dollar amount in Jakarta's business district. The government responded to the protests by arresting a large number of oppositionists, including union leader Muchtar Pakpahan, who risks being sentenced for overthrowing activities, which could result in the death penalty. Many PDI members were also prosecuted, while Megawati, for its part, initiated a legal process to have the provision lifted.

The image of a shaken power apparatus includes information about the aging president's faltering health and the severe blow to his wife's death in April for him. Suharto's 45-year-old son-in-law, Prabowo Subianto, has made a lightning career in the army and in August was named Major General, the youngest to date. His advancement gave rise to rumors that Suharto is preparing for a change of power.

Suharto was also challenged from elsewhere. A former MP, Bintang Pamungkas, was sentenced to close to three years in prison for calling Suharto "dictator". Waiting for the verdict to come into force, he formed a new party and announced that he would run in the 1998 presidential election, just as the former Megawati Sukarnoputri intended to do.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee's decision to award the 1996 Peace Prize to East Timor's Catholic Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo and the independence leader Jos谷 Ramos-Horta may not have been a hard blow to the Indonesian regime but at least an annoying ear file.

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