Ignoring protests and fears of economic turmoil, lawmakers re-elected Indonesian President Suharto unopposed Tuesday to a seventh five-year term as head of the world's fourth most-populous nation.
A 1,000-member assembly rose to its feet cheering when it unanimously appointed the 76-year-old retired army general as president again. Asia's longest serving leader, Suharto has ruled for 32 years."He's the only show in town," said outgoing Environment Minister Sarwono Kusumaatmadja.
Protesters in Jakarta and three other cities, angered by a plunging cur rency, rampant inflation and soaring unemployment, called on Suharto to quit. Some scuffled with security forces.
"There is no democracy in Indonesia," said Agus Marwan, a 23-year-old demonstrator. He called Suharto's re-election a "political joke."
Last month riots over rising prices rocked more than 20 towns. At least five people were killed.
In Washington, International Monetary Fund chief Michel Camdessus warned that Asia's economic recovery could unravel unless Indonesia carries out reforms agreed to under a $43 billion, IMF-led bailout deal.
Government ministers and Su-harto's wealthy family have criticized IMF reform demands as an attack on Indonesia's sovereignty.
Suharto, however, stood for election unopposed after all rivals were shut out of the race by a tightly controlled political system.
No formal vote was taken by the loyalist People's Consultative Assembly Tuesday. Instead, delegates elected him by acclamation, shouting "agree, agree!" when the assembly's speaker asked if they wanted Suharto to stay in power.
Some raised their hands in air as the group celebrated with a standing ovation that echoed through Jakarta's Parliament building. Many in the assembly are Suharto's relatives, friends and military officials.
"I'm very pleased with this outcome, and I thank the people for it," said Tommy Suharto, the president's youngest son, who is a millionaire businessman and an assembly delegate.
President Suharto, who assumed power in 1966 when the country was in economic chaos, will be sworn in Wednesday.
Security forces have banned demonstrations for several weeks while the assembly convenes. Tens of thousands of security personnel have been placed on alert.
At least 10 people were arrested after police jostled and kicked protesters at one demonstration in a Jakarta park.
"What we saw was a peaceful demonstration of people exercising democratic rights . . . broken up in a rather vigorous, forceful, physical way," said Edmund McWilliams, political counselor at the U.S. Embassy, who attended the protest as an observer.
In Yogyakarta, 260 miles east of Jakarta, about 200 protesters gathered at Muhammadiyah University, chanting anti-government slogans and calling for political reform.
Peaceful campus demonstrations were also held in Bandung and Surabaya.
Worried by the potential for further unrest, the assembly Monday extended Suharto's already ample authority by granting him wide emergency powers.
Without offering specifics, the assembly passed a decree authorizing Suharto to take "speedy action" against threats. Some analysts say that could enable Suharto to dissolve parliament and ban political parties.
Meanwhile, a rift with the IMF deepened as assembly delegates accused the Washington-based agency of trampling on Indonesia's sovereignty.
The IMF, faced with resistance from Suharto to the terms of its rescue package, decided last week to delay further aid to the nation of 202 million people. Under the bailout, Suharto is required to dismantle subsidies and monopolies that have made his family and associates rich over the past three decades.
"We do need the IMF, yes, but not if we are continually being repressed with this-and-that conditions," Siti Hediati, one of Suharto's three daughters and an assembly delegate, was quoted as saying.
Her comments echoed a statement Sunday by Suharto, who proclaimed the IMF reforms were "not in line with the spirit" of Indonesia's constitution.