Mon, 07 Feb 2000

Banser gathers to back President's policies

MAGELANG, Central Java (JP): At least 10,000 members of a security volunteer force from Nahdlatul Ulama's (NU) Ansor Youth Movement gathered for a dramatic demonstration here on Saturday to pledge support for President Abdurrahman Wahid's government and to heighten alertness against divisive national forces.

Wearing military-style uniforms, the security volunteers, dubbed banser, flocked to Sawitan Square in Kota Mungkid district from almost all neighboring towns such as Banyumas, Wonosobo, Semarang and Yogyakarta.

No violence was reported during the gathering.

The gathering comes amid feverish rumors of a possible takeover against Abdurrahman.

Ansor Youth Movement chairman Syaifulloh Yusuf told the attendees that "a particular force" was trying to destroy Indonesia's stability by creating chaos either based on ethnic or religious issues.

He called on those present not to be easily provoked.

"We have to keep in mind that we are anti-violence, anti- destruction. We cherish peace. We'll never manipulate religion for our own interests," Yusuf said.

Yusuf also led the chorus in chanting support for President Abdurrahman saying that as president the former NU chief has achieved much progress.

"One (achievement) is the trust he gets from both the domestic and foreign communities," he added.

In a joint statement, Ansor Youth Movements in Central Java and Yogyakarta reiterated their calls for fellow members to remain fully alert to anti-democratic forces.

"We have to be wary of any form of provocation to engage in destructive action in the name of the religion," the statement said.

"The present legitimate government is already badly burdened by the previous regime. So let's help make things easier for them". (swa/edt)