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Indonesian Parliament Meets to Impeach President

Aired July 22, 2001 - 21:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
STEPHEN FRAZIER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Stephen Frazier at CNN center in Atlanta; now this story: Indonesia's president and legislature are headed for a showdown tonight over who will lead that Asian island nation. The national assembly is now debating whether to impeach President Abdurrahman Wahid on charges of corruption and incompetence. This is a parliament he ordered dissolved as he declared a state of emergency in the world's fourth most populous nation.

Jakarta Bureau chief Maria Ressa is joining us now on the telephone with the latest on this.

Maria, in light of the state of emergency, did these lawmakers have any difficulty actually getting together in the parliament.

MARIA RESSA, JAKARTA BUREAU CHIEF: Stephen, it seems not. About two hours before this was scheduled to begin, the police threw their support behind assembly members. Certainly, most of the men and women you see in front of you now have been up most of the night. They've been in meetings. It's a victory of sorts, at this point, for the legislature -- the fact that they are now able to meet. The standoff lasted a matter of hours.

Now the assembly chairman Amien Rais is speaking. He is basically saying that Mr. Wahid's actions were unconstitutional and that they are going to move ahead to impeach him -- Stephen.

FRAZIER: It's beginning,Maria, to look like the endgame for the president. Who would be next in line?

RESSA: Under the Indonesian Constitution, if Mr. Wahid loses his mandate -- if this body, the assembly, revokes it, his vice president, Megawati Sukarnoputri, would automatically become Indonesia's fifth president.

FRAZIER: Is there any concern on the streets there, Maria, that this transfer of power might not be peaceful?

RESSA: Ironically, business goes on as usual. Jakarta's streets are a little less crowded. But at this point we haven't seen any demonstrators out on the streets. There have been some troop movements, but very quiet. There are some reports that Mr. Wahid -- some of Mr. Wahid's followers may be headed to Jakarta, but things are moving along so quickly that they won't get here in time at this point -- Stephen. FRAZIER: Final question, Maria: It looks like all hands are on deck in the national assembly -- 100 percent attendance on these pictures.

RESSA: It is full. This is a 700-member assembly. It is -- not all of them are there, abut they do have the full quorum necessary to do what the assembly chairman says they are going to do today, which is to remove Mr. Wahid from office and to swear in Megawati Sukarnoputri as Indonesia's next president.

FRAZIER: From Jakarta, Maria Ressa, our bureau chief. Maria, thank you.

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