Indonesia Students March Again

Thousands of students marched towards the home of deposed autocrat Suharto on Wednesday demanding he go on trial for corruption as an opinion poll showed most people also want to dump his successor.

At least 2,000 students rallied in central Jakarta, shouting "Suharto should go on trial immediately" as they headed towards his home in the elite area of Menteng.

They were eventually blocked by hundreds of police and troops about a half mile from Suharto's home but there were no signs of violence.

Students have tried several times in recent days to reach the home where Suharto, 77, lives as a virtual recluse.

Witnesses said the students looked well organized and linked arms, a practice they have increasingly adopted to keep out provocateurs.

It is the latest rally against Suharto, the country's president for 32 years until economic and social crisis forced him from office six months ago.

The protests came after troops forced several hundred students to end a 12-hour occupation of the attorney general's office Tuesday night.

Some analysts estimate Suharto and his family accumulated up to $40 billion during his long rule which ended in May.

The government has promised to set up a team to look into his wealth and has already canceled a number of lucrative state contracts with companies linked to his family and associates on suspicion of graft.

A government minister said Suharto had handed over his lucrative charities, worth $500 million, to the state.

Critics have accused the ousted leader of using the seven charities as a front for amassing wealth.

Many doubt the current leadership, most of which came to power under Suharto, will be prepared to dig too deeply into possible graft for fear of incriminating themselves.

The unpopular government of President B.J. Habibie has struggled to maintain a grip on power in the face of the country's worst economic depression in some 30 years and mounting protests and rioting.

At least 30 people have been killed in protests and riots in the past two week in some of the worst violence in the capital since May when at least 1,200 died.

Indonesians complain of an increasing sense of lawlessness in the country where the once powerful military, its image in tatters, has difficulty keeping control.

On Tuesday, about 1,000 students forced they way into the lobby of the office of Attorney-General Andi Muhammad Ghalib, who headed an earlier investigation into Suharto's wealth.

Ghalib, a three-star army general, has been widely criticized by opposition groups for being soft on Suharto, a retired general. Ghalib has refused to accept protesters' demands that Suharto be put on trial within a month.

Many students later left the building voluntarily. Pressured by the military, a remaining group of 200 agreed to board army trucks that ferried them to their university campuses shortly before midnight.

Last week, Suharto's successor and former protege, President B.J. Habibie, announced the government would set up a new inquiry into allegations that Suharto illegally enriched himself, his family and a clique of cronies during his 32 years in power.

Details of the proposed commission of inquiry have not yet been released and its announcement has failed to mollify student protesters.

An opinion poll published on Wednesday showed that people were looking to the opposition leaders to lift them out of crisis, rather than Habibie.

The poll by Tempo and Independent Market Research published showed only seven percent of those asked considered Habibie an ideal president.

Amien Rais, former head of the country's largest Moslem group and now leader of the opposition National Mandate Party (PAN), was the most popular candidate with 31 percent support.

Just behind, with 30 percent, was Megawati Sukarnoputri, daughter of founding president Sukarno and head of the breakaway faction of the opposition Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI).

The survey of 500 people in five major cities also found more than half feared military intervention if the powerful armed forces did not like the next president.

Parliamentarians said they were now targeting June 7 for the national election. The presidential election is due to be held six months later at most.

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