Indonesia History: The Suharto Post

Resigned Suharto was appointed president in the interim, the Vice President of the Republic, Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie, who announced free elections, encouraging the emergence of new parties which radically transformed the Indonesian political landscape: Amien Raïs, fierce critic of Suharto and reformist Islamic intellectual, formerly at the head of the influential Muhammed-jiah association, he founded the Islamic National Mandate Party (PAN); Abdurrahman Wahid, leader of the moderate Muslim group Nahdlatul Ulama (Ulema Rebirth) created the National Awakening Party (PKB); Megawati Sukarnoputri, daughter of the former leader Sukarno, with the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDID) accentuated the nationalistic tones and condemned every separatist movement, in particular that of East Timor; finally, the other two traditional parties also integrated into the new political game: the Golkar, which renewed the leadership group and gained new credibility, and the PPP, which emphasized its loyalty to Islam by securing the consent of the devout bourgeoisie. The elections of June 1999 consecrated the victory of Megawati Sukarnoputri’s PDID, constituting an undoubted progress in democratization, which, however, failed to recompose the deep divisions of Indonesian society. The social unrest and the angry aversion towards the Chinese community, considered an accomplice of Suharto, was also accompanied by the resumption of separatism, mainly favored by the imbalance in the distribution of economic resources. As early as 1998, in fact, in the province of Aceh, north of Sumatra, an outbreak of a disguised rebellion since 1976, after decades of repression, bloody street clashes broke out with the relaunch of the separatist armed struggle by the “Free Aceh” movement (Aceh Merdeka). Similar phenomena were repeated in 1999 also in Kalimantan, in the Moluccas and in the Irian Jaya, often intertwined with religious conflicts between Muslims and Christians. In that same year, moreover, the clash between separatists and anti-Secessionists in the eastern part of the island of Timor became the dramatic test case of Indonesian national unity. The rekindling of violence forced President Habibie to pronounce himself in favor of the independence of the territory (January 1999) and to sign an agreement with Portugal under the aegis of the UN (May 1999), which provided for the holding of a referendum on self-determination East Timor, a country located in Asia according to Searchforpublicschools.

The victory of the separatists (August 1999), however, it triggered a harsh reaction from the Indonesian government which launched a brutal repressive action. The consequent violent clashes between the local population and the army made the intervention of the UN indispensable, which immediately authorized the intervention of a multinational force led by Australia (October 1999) to ensure compliance with the result of the referendum and placed the island under control of the United Nations administration for a period of two years. Following this crisis, Habibie decided not to stand as a candidate in the presidential elections (October 1999) won by the Muslim leader Wahid. The escalation of separatism, the investigations into the violation of human rights in East Timor by the military, the involvement of the president in financial scandals, the freezing of loans by the IMF, in 2001, they led to the dismissal of Wahid and in his place was appointed the vice president Megawati Sukarnoputri, who had to face the serious terrorist attack in Bali in which many tourists lost their lives (2002). In May of the same year the independence of the Democratic Republic of East Timor was officially proclaimed which, therefore, was to be considered definitively freed from Indonesian control. In December the government and the rebels of the Free Aceh movement signed a peace agreement in Geneva which provided for the formation of a democratic government in the region; this political attempt failed, the government decided to subject Aceh to martial law by sending the military (2003). In the presidential elections of 2004, the first direct ones, it was affirmed Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who presented a program of reforms and economic growth. In December of the same year the country was devastated by a terrible tsunami caused by an earthquake that occurred off the island of Sumatra. Villages and coasts of the Indian Ocean were first hit by the earthquake and immediately afterwards completely submerged by the waters causing tens of thousands of victims, especially in the northern part of Sumatra. In July 2005, the government and the representatives of Aceh Libera reached a peace agreement which provided for the partial withdrawal of Indonesian troops from the province of Aceh, an end to the violence and the disarmament of the separatists. In 2006, President Yudhoyono met the president of East Timor, Gusmao, establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries. In December of the same year, after almost thirty years of fighting, local elections were held in the province of Aceh. Due to the impossibility of respecting the extraction quotas established by the organization, in 2008 the country withdrew from OPEC, of which he had been a member since 1962. In April 2009, the legislative elections were held, won by the party of President Yudhoyono (PD), who was also reconfirmed in the presidential elections in July. In 2014 Joko Widodo “Jokowi” won the presidential elections with 53.15% of the vote.

The Suharto Post

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