Indonesia Explodes

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There's blood on the streets of Jakarta again. At least nine people were killed Friday in a frenzy of rioting that signaled how little has changed in Indonesia since the ouster of Suharto last May. Tens of thousands of anti-government students clashed with security forces as the People's Consultative Assembly voted on a series of reforms. The legislative body agreed to democratic elections next May or June, but decided that the military would be guaranteed seats in a new parliament. "The problem is that an assembly created by Suharto is now trying to define the post-Suharto period, and in the eyes of many people it remains suspect," says TIME correspondent William Dowell. "But there's no other body that can do this."

The May rebellion persuaded the Indonesian military to drop Suharto and replace him with President B. J. Habibie. Student protesters pushing for accelerated political reform may find their actions have the opposite effect. Says Dowell: "A new uprising could actually frighten the military into thinking the situation is so unstable that they should be tightening their control rather than opening up to new reforms." And in Indonesia, the military's opinion tends to prevail.