Thousands protest against fuel price hikes in Indonesia

June 1st, 2008 - 6:57 pm ICT by admin  

Jakarta, June 1 (DPA) Thousands of Indonesians, including followers of Muslim hardliner groups, took to the streets in several major cities Sunday against the government’s decision to hike the price of fuel and cut off subsidies. In East Java capital of Surabaya - the second largest Indonesian city - about 6,000 members of the Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia Islamic movement marched from the governor’s residence to a busy commercial area to protest the fuel price hike.

Protestor leaders claimed that the government’s decision was a burden for people already reeling from soaring prices for other essentials, reported private ElShinta radio.

In the Indonesian capital, about 1,000 of Hizbut Tahrir followers, joined by dozens of activists from the Islamic Defender Front (FPI) Muslim hardliner group, staged a noisy protest rally outside the presidential palace in central Jakarta, arguing that fuel price hikes only bring more misery to the people.

“Reject any fuel price hikes,” shouted protestors, followed by “Allahu Akbar,” or “God is Great.”

A similar protests by Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia followers also took place in Padang, the capital of West Sumatra province, while other anti-fuel prices hike rallies occured in other big ciities, including in the central Java city of Solo and in Banjarmasin in South Kalimantan on the Indonesian part of Borneo Island.

“Reject the fuel price increase,” said one large banner displayed by the protesters in Jakarta, while another said “Reject the cash assistance scheme,” referring to the government’s programme of giving financial help to the poor to cushion the impact of the fuel price increase.

It was the latest in a series anti-government rallies since the government raised the domestic fuel prices up to nearly 30 per cent order to safeguard the state budget amid rising crude oil prices on the world markets.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono last week defended his unpopular fuel price hike of nearly 30 per cent as necessary to avoid an economic slump similar to the 1997-1998 economic meltdown that crippled the giant South-east Asian country.

Indonesia was the only Asia-Pacific member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), but has turned into a net importer of crude in recent years due to sharply declining output.

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