Indonesia: students protest hike in fuel prices : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Nando Times

JAKARTA, Indonesia (June 18, 2001 07:44 a.m. EDT) - Police fired warning shots and tear gas Monday at students who lobbed rocks and burned tires to protest a steep jump in fuel prices, witnesses said.

Hundreds of students blocked a main road with burning tires outside the National Institute for Islamic Studies in south Jakarta, witnesses said. Students also demonstrated outside Indonesian Christian University. No serious injuries were reported.

Meanwhile, public transport drivers in at least eight cities went on strike Monday to protest the gasoline and diesel price hikes, police and news reports said. In some cities, drivers stopped their buses mid-route and forced passengers to walk, the state news agency Antara said.

The strikes follow violent demonstrations over price increases Saturday on Java island, where protesters burned tired, blocked roads and looted petrol supplies.

The government raised gasoline prices Friday by an average of 30 percent, from 38 cents per gallon to 50 cents per gallon.

The hike already has forced companies to boost prices of basic goods such as fruit and vegetables, rice and cooking oil because of increased distribution costs.

The International Monetary Fund and other foreign lenders have long demanded that fuel subsidies be phased out as part of politically tough reforms needed to cut state spending and boost Indonesia's debt-ridden economy.

Previous fuel price increases also led to violent demonstrations, most notably those in May 1998 that helped topple former dictator Suharto.

The price hike comes amid heightened political instability in this Southeast Asian nation.

The National Assembly is scheduled to convene a special session Aug. 1 to impeach President Abdurrahman Wahid over corruption allegations. Wahid is also accused of mismanaging Indonesia's economy and failing to ease rising unrest.

-- Rachel Gibson (, June 19, 2001

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