Indonesia crisis: Suharto family's fortune in peril

President Habibie sets out reform agenda but fails to convince students and opposition leaders of his credentials as a democrat
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The Independent Online
AMIEN RAIS, the Muslim opposition leader, called for him to be formally investigated. General Wiranto, commander of the armed forces, promised to protect him, his family and his allies. The students in the parliament building were chanting for him to be hanged from the National Monument.

Within hours of his resignation, Indonesia was quarrelling over what will be one of the most divisive questions of the post-Suharto era: what will become of the fallen president, his family and the huge wealth he is believed to have accumulated in his 32 years of power?

Recent estimates put it at $30bn (pounds 19bn), a suspiciously large sum for any leader but especially so for a retired general with no big business interests. Less shadowy are the fortunes of his children, accumulated thanks to their father granting business licences and monopolies in hotels, telecommunications, toll roads, cars and cloves.

For a country recently forced to go begging to the IMF, this is especially bitter.

"All his money must go back to the people," said Denny Salazir, a student demonstrator. "He must pay the bill of the IMF."

Mr Rais rejected Gen Wiranto's promise to guard the former first family. "Maybe six months from now, Wiranto's statement will look idiotic," he said. "Nobody is above the law in Indonesia."

After Mr Suharto supplanted Sukarno in 1966, the former leader died in obscurity after years under palace arrest. Exile is one other possibility for Mr Suharto. But there are no signs yet that he plans to leave the country and Cabinet sources said all his immediate family were still in the country.

His eldest daughter, Tutut, was granted a British visa two weeks ago. Like her siblings, she owns property in London and British officials say that because of this there would be no grounds for denying her entry to the UK.

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