Wahid puts off rise in fuel price - Indonesian Affairs

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Wahid puts off rise in fuel price

Jakarta: President Abdurrahman Wahid yesterday postponed a rise in fuel prices ahead of mass street protests planned for today.

The price increase could not go ahead, he said, because "its implementation could not be controlled in a good manner".

Student organisations and unions had warned that at least 10,000 protesters would take to the streets of Jakarta in the biggest demonstration since the new government took office in October.

Among other things, they had threatened to occupy the national parliament building.

Officials said Mr Wahid's announcement was expected to prevent the protests going ahead, although the Government still planned to implement an increase in electricity rates.

Mr Wahid said: "We in the Cabinet meeting have decided to await for the reaction of the people, whether they are ready to face the fuel price hike."

Officials were worried that some elements, possibly from sections of the armed forces, would try to provoke violence during the demonstration in an attempt to destabilise the Government as it introduces unpopular economic reforms demanded by the International Monetary Fund.

The IMF said this week it was delaying the next tranche of its bail-out fund for the country because of slippage in the introduction of promised reforms.

Officials were also worried that influential businesspeople with links to the former Soeharto regime would provoke unrest at a time when the Government is investigating corruption allegations against them.

The Government stood firm earlier this week on its plan to impose a 10per cent fuel increase while pushing ahead with huge pay rises for high-ranking officials.

But it pledged to protect poor families and public transport owners by providing them with cash subsidies.

Although pay rises are part of the Government's strategy to reduce corruption, these were uneven and depended on the person's position and job. Public servants have already protested about the increases.

Lindsay Murdoch


In discussion with someone locally who posts on another American bboard he said hardly any Indonesian news comes through to them so he posts regular updates. The above is posted to show the Indonesian situation is not over.

Regards from OZ

-- Pieter (zaadz@icisp.net.au), April 01, 2000

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