Indonesia: Defying Gravity

Indonesia is at another of the crossroads that seem to have appeared with increasing regularity in the three years since President Suharto was overthrown. Its economy in tatters, the world’s largest Muslim nation is waking up to the fact that political horse trading may cost it its very future.

The World Today Updated 26 October 2020 Published 1 August 2001 5 minute READ

Peter Carey

Laithwaite Fellow and Tutor in Modern History, Trinity College, Oxford

Imagine this. The head of state of one of the largest western nations loses the support of his army, parliament and vice-president. His country’s economy deteriorates and the value of the national currency almost halves in his twenty-one months in office. Key International Monetary Fund (IMF) restructuring loans are suspended and riots break out on the streets when both the IMF and the World Bank insist on the ending of expensive fuel subsidies.

Meanwhile, restive provinces in the state’s outer periphery seize the opportunity to press home demands for independence as large foreign companies temporarily withdraw from the vital oil and gas, and mining sectors. Even in the state’s inner core, there are threats of secession by the country’s second most populous region. Impeachment proceedings are embarked on as a popular poll reveals that under two percent of the country feel the head of state is doing a good job.

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