Indonesian Troops Crack Down

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JAKARTA: Indonesia’s protesting students got a brutal back-to-school order from the nation’s generals tonight. Troops stormed parliament swinging batons, and then marched the protesters who had occupied the building all week out to waiting buses. TIME correspondent John Colmey reports that the crackdown had been predicted, as part of the military’s attempt to stabilize the government of B.J. Habibie following the ouster of President Suharto. The demonstrators rejected Habibie and had vowed to occupy parliament until their demands were met. But Habibie’s appointment needs to be confirmed by parliament, and that wasn’t going to happen while placard-wielding students danced in the aisles.

Even once confirmed by parliament, Habibie is unlikely to serve out his five-year term, Colmey reports. Instead, his stewardship will be a means of ensuring constitutional stability while the country’s traditional elites in the military, business and politics conduct a fierce behind-the-scenes struggle for power.