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Indonesia's 'unlucky' president blamed for quake

world Updated: Oct 04, 2009 11:45 IST

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Some superstitious Indonesians are blaming a supposedly "unlucky" president -- and not shifting tectonic plates -- for the latest earthquake in this disaster-prone country.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, popularly known by his initials SBY, has long been burdened by murmurs that he carries with him the shadow of cosmic misfortune.

A string of disasters both natural and man-made since his election in 2004, including the Indian Ocean tsunami that killed 220,000 across Asia, has seen quips that SBY stands for "Selalu Bencana Ya", roughly meaning "Always A Disaster".

The latest catastrophe, believed to have killed upwards of 1,100 people with another buried 4,000 under rubble, is viewed by many in this Muslim-majority country of 234 million as yet more proof that SBY's stars are crossed.

"SBY, because of his birth date, will always attract disasters to this country, according to the Primbon (a Javanese almanac of mysticism)" Permadi, a veteran politician from the opposition Gerindra party and practising shaman said.

"Just look at the numbers of his birth date -- the ninth of the ninth, '49 -- that's unlucky. The more he holds on to power, the more great disasters will happen," he said.

If Yudhoyono stays president, "a much bigger disaster will strike Jakarta for sure," Permadi said, referring to the Indonesian capital.

"If SBY had a big heart, he would step down." (AFP)