JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Indonesia's parliament launched formal impeachment proceedings against President Abdurrahman Wahid on Saturday, just 21 months after it picked him as the country's first democratic head of state in four decades.
Amien Rais, chairman of the People's Consultative Assembly, or parliament, predicted Wahid would be dismissed Tuesday and immediately replaced by Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri, the daughter of Indonesia's founding leader, Sukarno. Ironically, Sukarno was also impeached in the mid-1960s.
"(Wahid) is through unless there is a miracle from the sky," Rais said.
Although politically isolated, Wahid remained defiant and declared on national television that he would boycott the hearing, which he described as unconstitutional and treasonous.
There were no signs of trouble in the capital or elsewhere, but Wahid warned legislators that his ouster could trigger violent protests.
"The president will survive, but will the people run amok against the assembly?" Wahid asked reporters.
An overwhelming majority of assembly members voted to proceed with the impeachment process with or without the cooperation of Wahid, who has repeatedly threatened to declare emergency rule and dissolve the assembly.
"Wahid has no chance at all," said Arifin Panigoro, a senior member of Megawati's party, which is Indonesia's largest political group.
The assembly elected Wahid over Megawati in October 1999.
Initially, the nearly blind Muslim scholar enjoyed wide support amid hopes that he would deliver economic and democratic reforms after years of corrupt dictatorship. However, relations quickly soured with lawmakers, who accused the 61-year-old leader of erratic policies and claimed that he was too frail after a series of strokes.
Corruption continued to flourish and Wahid also failed to quell communal and separatist conflicts.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.