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Students Protest in Indonesia

February 26, 1998

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ With President Suharto’s expected re-election only days away, several thousand students marched today to urge an end to government corruption.

Students waving banners calling for ``clean government″ and chanting ``Reform!″ converged on a campus of the University of Indonesia on the outskirts of Jakarta.

Hundreds of police and anti-riot troops were posted outside the gates of the campus, but they did not interfere with the protest.

It was the second day of protests criticizing Suharto, who has ruled the country for 32 years. On Wednesday, hundreds of demonstrators rallied at a campus in central Jakarta.

A special assembly dominated by Suharto supporters will begin meeting Sunday in Jakarta to elect a president and his deputy. The armed forces says it will crack down on attempts to disrupt the vote.

There have been scattered riots around Indonesia against soaring food prices caused by the plunge in the value of the country’s currency, the rupiah. The protester’s today blamed Suharto’s grip on power for worsening the situation.

``The assembly is only political theater,″ said Agus Wijaya, a student. ``Who cares about the assembly when the people are hungry and crying?″

Indonesia’s currency has sunk more than 70 percent since July, and the International Monetary Fund has devised a $43 billion bailout to help rescue the economy.

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