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Indonesians Appeal for Calm

November 24, 1998| Reuters

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Looking increasingly rudderless since the downfall of President Suharto six months ago, Indonesian leaders on Monday urged an end to unrest after the capital was hit by more savage violence over the weekend.

At least 13 people were killed in Jakarta on Sunday after Javanese Muslims and Christians from the eastern island of Ambon clashed in a frightening reminder of how fragile the social cohesion has become in this hugely diverse country.

"We should be able to control ourselves. We should realize that we are not under a secular government, nor that we follow a certain religion," President B.J. Habibie said.

He echoed calls of two major opposition figures, who warned that the unrest was being instigated, and appealed for calm.

During the 32-year iron rule of Suharto, the differences of numerous ethnic groups and languages had largely been kept under control.

Since he was forced from office six months ago amid a mounting social and economic crisis, no strong leader has emerged, and Habibie's hold on power is generally seen as tenuous.

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