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History, The Sukarno Regime

Partai Komunis Indonesia, covert aid, President Sukarno, Sukarno, military coups

In August 1950 the Unitary State of Indonesia replaced the RUSI. The government’s first task was to create a viable state from Indonesia’s many people and cultures; but it also had to quell sporadic uprisings of Muslim groups in West Java and Aceh as well as Dutch-led antirepublican movements in Sulawesi and the Moluccas. The nationwide elections of late 1955 gave none of parliament’s parties a majority, and only one party, the Masjumi, had a significant following outside Java. Both before and after the elections the government was criticized for being factional, corrupt, ineffective, and for maintaining few ties to the regions it was supposed to represent.

In 1956 President Sukarno called for reforming the party system and replacing liberal democracy with what he eventually called “Guided Democracy,” which would give the president wider government authority. It took Sukarno three years to implement Guided Democracy. In the meantime, the outer islanders grew increasingly resentful of the central government. They were especially upset over the small funding they received for economic development, despite contributing a large share of Indonesia’s export earnings. These and other factors prompted military coups on Sumatra and Sulawesi from December 1956 to March 1957, all of which were eventually put down. On February 15, 1958, army dissidents in Sumatra, supported by counterparts in Sulawesi and by several leaders of Masjumi, proclaimed the Revolutionary Government of the Republic of Indonesia. The rebels received covert aid from the United States and Taiwan but the forces of the central government soon defeated them. Guerrilla actions continued, however, until 1961.

In 1959, with his Guided Democracy in place, Sukarno pursued an active foreign policy. He demanded The Netherlands surrender West Irian (which, following a brief period of UN administration, was finally turned over to Indonesia in 1963), and he opposed the formation of the Federation of Malaysia. Domestically, the economic decline continued and both the army and the Communists (Partai Komunis Indonesia, or PKI) increased their power, with tension growing between the two groups.

Article key phrases:

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