JAKARTA, Indonesia, July 30 -- Declaring that "our tolerance is limited," the military commander for this capital city said today that he had ordered his troops to "shoot on the spot" anyone taking to the streets to riot, as the government here blamed Marxists and a little-known leftist group for instigating over the weekend the worst anti-government violence in Indonesia in more than two decades.
The capital remained jittery today, as telephoned bomb threats forced the evacuation of shopping centers and office buildings. Heavily armed troops took up positions in the Kota section of north Jakarta following rumors that a new outbreak of violence was imminent.
No fresh unrest was reported today, but last weekend's huge riot, which left three people dead and more than a dozen banks and government office buildings destroyed, continued to take its toll on Indonesia's economy. The stock market dropped by an additional 1.34 percent today, and there were signs that currency and stock speculators were cashing in on the new mood of instability.
Indonesian newspapers this morning reported that President Suharto, facing the most brazen challenge to his iron-fisted 30-year rule, had met with his top officials to be briefed on the violence and then blamed the unrest on a little-known group that he said was the successor to the banned Indonesian Communist Party, or PKI.
According to a report in the English-language Jakarta Post, Suharto blamed the weekend violence on a small group called the People's Democratic Party, which often uses Marxist rhetoric and has been blamed for labor strikes and anti-government activities over the last year.
Suharto was quoted by one of his ministers as telling them in the meeting that the party "is synonymous with the old PKI."
The Communist Party was a powerful force here in the early 1960s, during the rule of Indonesia's first president, the charismatic nationalist hero Sukarno. But in 1965, after the execution of several top army generals, the military accused the Communists of launching a coup attempt. In the ensuing army crackdown, a half-million suspected Communist Party members and sympathizers were killed, Sukarno was forced to abdicate to a military junta, and Suharto emerged as the unquestioned leader of this sprawling archipelago of 200 million people.
The Communist Party was banned that year and has not been a force in Indonesian politics since. But the government has consistently raised the specter of a Communist revival to justify its periodic crackdowns on internal dissent.
Some Indonesian politicians and analysts here said they find the government's repeated use of the Communist bogeyman tired and outdated. "They accuse us of being Communists," said Laksamana Sukardi, an official of a legally sanctioned opposition party, the Indonesian Democratic Party. "But they forget -- they already have accepted Vietnam into ASEAN," the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which the Communist government in Hanoi joined last year.
Some analysts said the government was scapegoating suspected leftists for what was essentially a riot sparked by the government's heavy-handed raid on the headquarters of the Indonesian Democratic Party. Unrest was further fueled by continuing popular discontent over the country's rigidly controlled political system and an economic boom that has produced huge disparities between haves and have-nots.
Various government officials have tried to blame the rioting on young agitators with no political agenda. But young people interviewed in the streets Saturday had very specific political views. They did not like Suharto and thought he should step down, and they supported opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri, the daughter of Sukarno, who has come to embody popular aspirations for change.
The violence was also not as random as the government has suggested. Specific buildings, offices and shops were targeted -- such as government banks and agencies and military offices, as well as shops that had Chinese owners or were believed associated with members of the president's family or his cronies.
Today, the chief of a political branch of the army, Lt. Gen. Sywarwan Hamid, was quoted by the local Antara news agency as saying the military was searching for leaders of the People's Democratic Party. The government announced last week that 215 people had been arrested in connection with the rioting.
Meanwhile, with the tension here continuing, the military commander for Jakarta, Maj. Gen. Sutiyoso, was quoted by the Antara news agency as warning that the military was in no mood to tolerate new disturbances.
"We have issued orders to shoot if there are any attempts to disturb order," Sutiyoso said.
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