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Indonesia Nears Anti-Terror Decree

October 17, 2002

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JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ President Megawati Sukarnoputri won crucial parliamentary backing Thursday for an emergency anti-terrorism decree in response to intense international pressure to crack down in the wake of the Bali nightclub bombings.

The decree has not been disclosed, but it was expected to make it easier for authorities to arrest and hold suspects and suspend some human rights protections in cases involving terrorism.

Those protections were written into law after the overthrow in 1998 of President Suharto, whose brutal 32-year dictatorship saw hundreds of thousands of people sent off to prison camps for long periods without trial.

Megawati met Parliamentary Speaker Akbar Tandjung for one hour to discuss the decree, which is based on legislation that has been stalled in Parliament for months over fears that it could give the security forces too much power.

``The Parliament gives its full support to the government to issue the anti-terrorism government regulation,″ Tandjung told a news conference. ``The legal basis right now is not adequate.″

Backing from parliamentary leaders was considered necessary to give Megawati the political room to issue the decree, which could put her on a collision course with Islamic extremists who are being widely blamed for the bombings.

Megawati said that she will hold a meeting Friday _ it wasn’t clear exactly with whom but probably with key security official _ and that the decree could be issued afterward.

Issuing the decree ``will certainly depend on the result″ of the meeting, Megawati said.

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