President Suharto assumed broad new powers Monday to crack down on growing unrest over Indonesia's economic crisis. Authorities did not reveal the scope of the emergency powers, except to say they authorize "speedy action" against threats from either inside or outside the nation.
Opposition to Suharto's handling of the nation's economic troubles is growing among government and financial leaders abroad and among the public at home. Across Indonesia Monday, hundreds chanted anti-government slogans in the latest in days of protests.The Peoples Consultative Assembly responded to the turmoil by passing a decree Monday granting Suharto sweeping powers to keep the peace.
The assembly - filled with Suharto's relatives, friends and the military - defended the powers as "constitutional software" needed to safeguard national development. But critics complained they will permit Suharto to control and intimidate his opponents unchecked.
About 1,000 students protested Monday at the University of Indonesia outside Jakarta, chanting "The people reject Suharto!" Elsewhere, police broke up a rally by about 20 people at a shopping center in rural Jakarta. They were protesting rising food prices - one of the most painful symptoms of the nation's economic troubles.
The International Monetary Fund, facing resistance from Suharto to the terms for its $43 billion economic rescue package, decided last week to delay further aid to the world's fourth most-populous country.
Suharto, his island-studded nation mired in its worst economic crisis in 30 years, appeared unmoved. The president said Sunday the reforms conflict with Indonesia's constitution.
The rupiah has fallen more than 70 percent since July.