Fall of Suharto

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Suharto retired as president of Indonesia in May 1998 following the collapse of support for his three-decade long presidency. The resignation followed severe economic and political crises in the previous 6 to 12 months. BJ Habibie continued at least a year of his remaining presidential years, followed by Abdurrahman Wahid in 1999. Suharto's resignation also marked the end of the New Order, a regime that began in 1968.

Dissent under the New Order

Coming to power in 1966 on the heels of an alleged coup by the Indonesian Communist Party, the government of the former general Suharto adopted policies that severely restricted civil liberties and instituted a system of rule that effectively split power within his own Golkar Party and the military.

In 1970, corruption prompted student protests and an investigation by a government commission. Suharto responded by banning student protest, forcing the activists underground. Only token prosecution of cases recommended by the commission was pursued. The pattern of co-opting a few of his more powerful opponents while criminalizing the rest became a hallmark of Suharto's rule.

In order to maintain a veneer of democracy, Suharto made a number of electoral reforms. He stood for election before electoral college votes every five years, beginning in 1973. According to his electoral rules, however, only three parties were allowed to participate in the election: his own Golkar party; the Islamist United Development Party (PPP), and the......
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