ad info

  MAIN PAGE myCNN | Video | Audio | Headline News Brief | Free E-mail | Feedback
   east asia
   southeast asia
   south asia
   central asia

 Headline News brief
 news quiz
 daily almanac

 video archive
 multimedia showcase
 more services

Subscribe to one of our news e-mail lists.
Enter your address:
Get a free e-mail account

 message boards

CNN Websites
 En Español
 Em Português


Networks image
 more networks

 ad info



Indonesia turns attention to crucial vice presidential vote

President Wahid addresses the nation  

Wahid invokes Sukarno in service of unity

October 20, 1999
Web posted at: 11:12 p.m. HKT (1512 GMT)

In this story:

Wahid victory fuels Jakarta riots

Vice-presidential vote next


JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNN) -- Indonesia's parliament prepared for a crucial vice-presidential vote on Thursday, one day after Muslim leader Abdurrahman Wahid was sworn in as the first freely elected president in the archipelago nation's history.

The capital Jakarta was calm early Thursday after a night of violence by angry supporters of opposition figurehead Megawati Sukarnoputri, the surprise loser in Wednesday's tumultuous contest.

Normally little more than a ceremonial post, the vice presidency has taken on a new importance following Wahid's victory. The 59-year-old half-blind leader has suffered at least two strokes in recent years.

Wahid's Nation Awakening Party has expressed interest in Megawati for the post.

"Megawati is definitely one of our choices but up until now we haven't made a final decision yet," senior party official Khofifah Indar said Thursday.

There has been no confirmation from Megawati whether she would accept a nomination for the vice presidency, or remain in the opposition.

The vice-presidential candidates -- who could also include armed forces chief General Wiranto and the head of the former ruling Golkar party Akbar Tandjung -- were expected to be named at around 10.30 a.m. (12:30 a.m EDT).

In his inaugural address on Wednesday, Wahid appealed for unity. To underscore his message, the Muslim cleric quoted Megawati's father, Sukarno.

Chronology of Indonesian crisis

Indonesia and East Timor

VideoCNN's Maria Ressa shows the turbulent 24 hours leading up to Wahid's election (October 20)
Real 28K 80K
Windows Media 28K 80K

VideoIndonesia's economy is going through a difficult time -- Correspondent Alan Buchnea explains what the new president faces (October 20)
Real 28K 80K
Windows Media 28K 80K

VideoCNN's Maria Ressa maps the political fallout (October 19)
Real 28K 80K
Windows Media 28K 80K

"Just as our founding president, Sukarno, taught us, we have great reasons to be a unified nation," Wahid said. "This is something that we must continue to follow today."

Wahid -- better known by the nickname Gus Dur, meaning "teacher of his people" -- stressed his "deepest appreciation" to his "good friend" Megawati, who had been the popular favorite to win Wednesday's vote to replace B.J. Habibie as president.

"Democracy can only be cultivated by people who understand about the principles and foundations of democracy," Wahid said.

Indonesia's new president pledged to push for better international trade and political relations, but said such relations could not come at the expense of his nation's dignity.

"Good international relations among all countries must continue to be based on the principles of mutual respect and mutual appreciation," Wahid said. "We still cannot find it acceptable that judgment be passed by other countries on our country."

Wahid drew applause from the 700-member assembly when he stressed his commitment to "the unity and territorial integrity of our nation ... in front of other countries who are frequently insensitive to the dignity of our peoples."

Wahid's remarks appeared aimed at many Indonesians who were angry with Habibie's policies relating to East Timor, which voted for independence after 23 years under Indonesian rule. Opponents of Habibie's policies feared East Timor's vote would lead to a further dissolution of Indonesia.

Habibie became president 16 months ago when long-time dictator Suharto resigned amid a barrage of personal and political scandals and devastating riots.

Wahid victory fuels Jakarta riots

News of Wahid's legislative win sparked violence in the streets of Jakarta, where tens of thousands of Megawati supporters had gathered to cheer their candidate to victory.

Three explosions rocked the city -- one just ahead of the vote -- injuring more than 20 people. Two people were killed in the second explosion, a car bomb that went off just outside the parliament building.

Demonstrators clashed with police and burned vehicles and toll booths during a march to the parliament building. Met by riot forces outside the swearing-in ceremony, the rioters stood face-to-face with the troops, who used tear gas and warning shots to control the crowd.

Wahid outmaneuvered Megawati to gain the support of a simple majority of Indonesia's 700 legislators after Habibie withdrew from the race. Earlier Wednesday, the legislators narrowly rejected Habibie's assessment of his 16-month-long administration's successes and failures.

Riots break out in Jakarta after Wahid is elected president  

Habibie's Golkar Party first announced it would back party chairman Akbar Tanjung for the presidency, but quickly withdrew his candidacy as well.

Megawati's Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P) captured more seats in the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) than any other party, but the majority was not enough to secure her election to the presidency.

Wahid's victory was assured minutes before the vote when 11th-hour candidate Yusril Mahendra withdrew and threw his support behind Wahid.

Wahid took 373 votes in the assembly to Megawati's 313. The two appeared together after the vote, appealing for calm and unity.

"Together with Megawati, I celebrate our independence and freedom," said Wahid, his hand clasped in that of his political rival.

"For the unity of the nation, I call on the people of Indonesia to accept the results of the election," Megawati said in parliament after she joined Wahid and hundreds of other legislators in singing Indonesia's national anthem.

Vice-presidential vote next

A few hours after the vote, the frail Wahid stood before a bank of microphones to take the oath swearing to uphold Indonesia's constitution.

"As the elected president of this republic ... I shall undertake all responsibilities, all my constitutional responsibilities, including the swearing of the oath in accordance with my religion of Islam," the cleric said after being aided to the microphone for the historic ceremony.

Wahid's ill health -- he suffered a stroke a year and a half ago which robbed him of some of his sight and left him in poor health -- has caused concern in some quarters, lending importance to Thursday's selection of a vice president.

On Wednesday, there was speculation that Megawati could become a candidate for the post when nominations are offered. Tanjung and armed forces chief General Wiranto were also considered possible nominees.

A military spokesman said the general would accept the nomination if asked by all of Indonesia's political parties. Earlier, Wiranto rejected an offer to be Habibie's running mate.

Jakarta Bureau Chief Maria Ressa and Reuters contributed to this report, which was written by KC Wildmoon


Habibie withdraws from Indonesia's presidential race
October 19, 1999
White-collar workers in Jakarta join anti-Habibie chorus
October 18, 1999
Indonesia Habibie eyes defeat as assembly meets
October 18, 1999
Indonesian leader pleads with lawmakers for his job
October 17, 1999
Indonesian President Habibie names general as running mate
October 13, 1999

United Nations Home Page
Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights
Golkar Party
Indonesian Embassy
  • Government of Indonesia
  • Facts about Indonesia
World-Wide Web Virtual Library: Indonesia
See related sites about Southeast Asia
Southeast Asian media sites

Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

U.S. secretary of state says China should be 'tolerant'

Philippine government denies Estrada's claim to presidency

Faith, madness, magic mix at sacred Hindu festival

Land mine explosion kills 11 Sri Lankan soldiers

Japan claims StarLink found in U.S. corn sample

Thai party announces first coalition partner


COVER: President Joseph Estrada gives in to the chanting crowds on the streets of Manila and agrees to make room for his Vice President

THAILAND: Twin teenage warriors turn themselves in to Bangkok officials

CHINA: Despite official vilification, hip Chinese dig Lamaist culture

PHOTO ESSAY: Estrada Calls Snap Election

WEB-ONLY INTERVIEW: Jimmy Lai on feeling lucky -- and why he's committed to the island state


COVER: The DoCoMo generation - Japan's leading mobile phone company goes global

Bandwidth Boom: Racing to wire - how underseas cable systems may yet fall short

TAIWAN: Party intrigues add to Chen Shui-bian's woes

JAPAN: Japan's ruling party crushes a rebel at a cost

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans need to have more babies. But success breeds selfishness

Launch CNN's Desktop Ticker and get the latest news, delivered right on your desktop!

Today on CNN
Enter keyword(s)   go    help

Back to the top   © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.