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Radical Islam's Challenge to Indonesia

With the Taliban on the run, sighs of relief can be heard as far away as Indonesia. Protests against the US-led coalition's bombing campaign had roiled Indonesia for weeks, increasing the country's already perilous instability. Now that the war in Afghanistan may wind down soon, there is a fear that President Megawati Sukarnoputri will do little to change her do-nothing ways.

These protests came as Mrs Megawati's first 100 days in office ended. They were but another sign of the scant political honeymoon she enjoyed. Grumbling about her ``slow motion'' style of government can be heard everywhere; applause for her few accomplishments - such as weathering the Islamic storm - is slight.

Public expectations about Mrs Megawati were modest from the start. In her report to the annual session of the People's Consultative Assembly, delivered on November 1, Megawati admitted that her government had achieved little. The Assembly sought to fill this policy vacuum by outlining steps that her government must take to jump-start the economy.

Although the Assembly remains dubious about her, Mrs Megawati was heartened when Assembly Chairman Amien Rais foreswore any challenge to her presidency for the remainder of her term, which expires in 2004. So Megawati need not worry about being ejected from office as her predecessor Abdurrahman Wahid was, just a few months ago.