"Suharto was backed into a corner," explains TIME Jakarta correspondent Terry McCarthy. "The military went to him and said 'You've got to step down now, before things get worse.'" Safe in the knowledge that the army would protect him from here on, Suharto agreed. Once again, the generals were left to decide the fate of the fourth largest nation on earth.
"Habibie will be a figurehead president," says McCarthy. "The real power will lie in the economic reform council they are establishing." And what about opposition leader Amien Rais, symbol of Indonesia's growing desire for free elections? According to McCarthy, he's sunk: "The army may bring Rais into the council to show they have some pluralism, but elections are not part of their agenda. The army's primary concern is to get the economy working." After all, even generals have faces to save.