Protesters clash with cops outside Megawati's home

JAKARTA: Hundreds of anti-government protesters clashed with police who were trying to block them from reaching the house of Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri here yesterday. 

There were no apparent injuries during the shoving match, when about 100 regular and paramilitary police blocked more than 500 chanting students from approaching the president’s home in an upscale neighbourhood here. 

The students were protesting recent fuel and utilities hikes and called for Megawati’s resignation. 

“Hang corruptors,” one protester shouted before they blocked traffic and burned a tyre in the road outside the British embassy. 

Outside the home of the US ambassador, the protesters stopped to raise their fists and yell abuse, before continuing to Megawati’s nearby home. 

Anti-government demonstrations sparked by the New Year hikes in electricity and fuel prices continued in at least three other cities, despite a government decision to review the hikes and to cancel an increase in telephone rates. 

Local media reported that student protesters hurled cow dung as they searched for government officials attending a ceremony in Bogor.  

Hundreds of students gathered at the gates of the Bogor Agriculture Institute where government officials and business leaders were gathering for a ceremony installing Rochimin Dahuri, the Minister of Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, as a professor, reports said. 

Demonstrations have occurred almost daily since the beginning of January in the most widespread public challenge to the 18-month administration of Megawati. 

The government raised fuel prices by up to 22% on Jan 2 in an attempt to reduce costly fuel subsidies and contain its budget deficit. 

Electricity charges also went up 6% at the start of the year, with further quarterly hikes expected. – AFP 

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