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Suharto Re-Elected Indonesian Leader for Fifth Term

March 11, 1988

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ Indonesia’s 1,000-member national assembly unanimously re-elected President Suharto, the only presidential candidate, to a fifth five-year term Thursday.

Suharto, 66, has led this Southeast Asian nation of 170 million people since 1966, when the late President Sukarno was forced to hand over power to Suharto, then a general.

The People’s Consultative Assembly, the nation’s highest policy-making body, elected Suharto president in 1968 and has regularly re-elected him every five years since.

All indications were that Suharto was in firm control of the island republic and its 400,000-member armed forces.

The assembly meets every five years to choose the president and vice president and issue new guidelines for state policy.

Shortly after Suharto was re-elected, a general sprang to the podium, grabbed the microphone and protested what he called an unfair method in the selection of the vice president.

Brig. Gen. Ibrahim Saleh declared, ″We, Indonesian soldiers who believe in God and defend honesty and justice, have heard rumors saying that the nomination of the vice president is not being fairly and correctly carried out.″

Saleh was shouted down and taken away.

The chief of Indonesia’s National Security Agency, Gen. Benny Murdani, said later, ″I guarantee no such incident will occur again at the assembly.″

Suharto did not attend the session.

State Secretary Sudharmono, 61, a close aide to Suharto and chairman of the governing Golkar party, was expected to be elected vice president on Friday.

Military sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the army opposed Sudharmono’s nomination and wanted the newly appointed armed forces commander, Gen. Try Sutrisno, 52, to become vice president.

Suharto will have to cope with urgent economic problems in his new term, including a $42.1 billion foreign debt.

The nation’s economy was buffeted by economic recession over the last five years, aggravated by a sharp drop in the price of oil, a major foreign exchange earner.

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