Indonesian military rejects parliamentary call for Suharto ouster

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — His nation in turmoil after a week of deadly rioting, President Suharto lost the support of top Parliament allies Monday but held onto the all-important backing of Indonesia’s powerful military.
Parliament Speaker Harmoko said Monday that leaders of Parliament’s four factions would make a joint appeal Tuesday for Suharto to step down.
The autocratic Suharto, his power virtually unassailable for three decades, now finds his government splintering, riven by the strain of the nation’s financial crisis and ever louder demands for new leadership.
Last week’s rioting, burning and looting over food and fuel price increases killed at least 500 people in the capital and loosened Suharto’s hold on this nation of 200 million people, the world’s fourth most-populous.
On Monday, however, years of courting military brass paid off for Suharto, himself a retired army general. Indonesia’s armed forces chief, Gen. Wiranto, indicated at a news conference that Suharto should stay in power and guide the implementation of political reforms.
With the backing of the 400,000-strong military, Suharto’s authority is secure for now despite the bloody riots. Hundreds of thousands of students are pressing for his ouster.
Even though the military has sided with him, his credibility has been badly damaged and the nation faces the prospect of more turmoil Wednesday during planned anti-government rallies.
Wiranto said the demonstrations would lead to chaos and warned that the military would deal harshly with rioters.