Nothing but bad news and much worse to come for the world's fourth most-populous country. The ineffectual presidency of Megawati Sukarnoputri will wreak ever greater damage as the good will that marked her assumption of office evaporates. Expect the accelerating collapse of the country's finances and civil administration, soaring lawlessness and vigilantism in cities, and chaos and bloodshed in the remoter provinces. Ethnic hatreds and independence movements will push the military into bloody reprisals. Indonesia looks headed for implosion, though in agonizing slow motion.
After two decades in power, poor health may finally force 76-year-old Prime Minister Mahathir to step down. But the Prime Minister's designated successor, the charismatic Anwar Ibrahim, languishes in jail after being been convicted of corruption and sodomy in two controversial trials. Although Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi is set to take over, few see him as more than a place holder. One intriguing possibility: should Mahathir depart, Anwar might take advantage of his status as the only leader who can heal the bitter wounds caused by his downfall not to mention the many questions hanging over his convictions to make a comeback. One scenario being discussed in Kuala Lumpur sees his supporters in the ruling political party arranging for a royal pardon, allowing Anwar to pick up Mahathir's mantle.
How low can a country fall? Zimbabweans may find out in 2002 as President Robert Mugabe continues his destructive campaign of intimidation and land grabs in an effort to hold onto power. The presidential election in March will turn the enmity between Mugabe's ruling zanu-pf party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change violent. Watch for arbitrary arrests of opposition supporters, journalists and anyone else not prepared to bow to Mugabe's dictatorial ways. If things get really ugly, the military could step in. Mugabe will rig the election; when he wins, Zimbabwe will be further criticized and isolated.