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Megawati Vows to Stamp Out Corruption - 2001-08-16

Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri is vowing to stamp out endemic corruption and improve security in the separatist plagued country. The new president used her first state of the nation address to bluntly outline the nation's problems.

Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri told Parliament Thursday one of her top priorities is to wipe out corruption. Lawmakers applauded when she said the campaign would include members of her own prominent political family. "I have gathered all my close relatives," she said, "and have asked them to promise not to engage in any opportunity for corruption, collusion or nepotism."

The president, who took office little more than three weeks go, used her first state of the nation address to underscore that the country needs to unify to tackle long simmering problems and that the process might be painful.

In a nationally televised speech, Ms. Megawati - a staunch nationalist - made clear that Indonesia will not be allowed to break apart, but she reached out to separatists by acknowledging decades of injustice. The president apologized to the people of Aceh and Irian Jaya. "We convey our deep apologies to our brothers who have long suffered as a result of inappropriate national policies," she said. But the president warned that neither province would ever win independence. Instead she urged separatists to help build a "new Indonesia." Indonesian troops have been trying to put down separatist movements in both Aceh and Irian Jaya for more than two decades killing thousands of people. Separatist leaders say the provinces are being exploited for their natural resources with little of the benefits going back to local people. The Indonesian government last month passed legislation allowing for greater regional autonomy for Aceh and Irian Jaya to try to appease provincial leaders.

On the international front, Ms. Megawati said it is essential that the country woo back foreign creditors and investors. She was short on details but is expected to flush out her polices to Parliament next month.