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Preacher demands Suharto step down

Voice of America - April 24, 1998 (abridged)

In a demonstration Friday in the Indonesian city of Solo, a respected muslim preacher – Mohammad Komar – demanded that president Suharto step down. Jenny Grant reports from solo that demonstrators there are becoming increasingly militant.

A crowd of one thousand students hurled rocks at anti-riot police at the 11th March University, as the students tried to push their protest off campus.

The university has been the site of the most violent demonstrations over the last month, with dozens of students injured during clashes with security forces.

Police brought in an armored personnel carrier and a water cannon to keep the students on campus. there were no direct clashes, and the police withdrew after a three hour stand off. the military has banned students from leaving their campuses, in an effort to prevent the daily demonstrations from affecting the wider community. but indonesian workers, the unemployed and even the middle class feel strong sympathy for the students demands.

Food prices have soared here following the rapid depreciation of the rupiah against the dollar. Rati, who owns a canteen opposite the university gates, says she agrees with the student demands to bring down food prices, Oust Mr. Suharto and clean up corruption. Her husband, Wibowo, nailed sheets of corrugated iron onto the front of their shop to protect it from the shower of rocks.

Muslim preacher Mohammad Komar – who led Friday prayers with the students – publicly demanded that Mr. Suharto resign. he says the Muslim community in Indonesia wants a new government and an end to corruption.