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Indonesian president bans buffaloes at protests

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Enraged by protesters likening him to a "big and stupid" water buffalo, Indonesia's president has ordered the beasts and other animals banned at street rallies, a decision some said shows their leader can't handle criticism.

The ban, issued Wednesday by Jakarta police, follows a demonstration last week in which protesters - who accused President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of failing to fight rampant corruption - tried to parade a water buffalo with his name spray-painted on it through the city's main traffic circle. The ban applies to all animals at rallies.

Police removed the buffalo from the rally, one of a slew of protests held across the nation to mark the first 100 days of the president's second term.

Yudhoyono was not exactly thrilled with the comparison to a beast of burden that is a symbol of peasant rice farmers in Indonesia.

"They said that I am like a buffalo - big and stupid and slow in moving," he told reporters. "That statement is not ethical or moral, and to use a buffalo can violate other regulations, like traffic laws."

Yudhoyono has been the longest-ruling democratic leader since the end of Indonesia's dictatorship in 1998. - AP

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