President Bacharuddin Habibie's 17-month rule has not been entirely bad for Indonesia. He had the courage to permit the referendum that led to independence for East Timor, and again to permit the deployment of foreign peacekeepers. Both are actions which more nationalistic politicians, such as opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri, would never have sanctioned. There is also some truth in his claim that the economy has stabilised during his term in office. But it is far from clear how much Mr Habibie contributed to this. In any case, it is almost inevitable that a leader who presides over the start of a move away from authoritarian rule will be pilloried by his nation for moving too slowly. That was the experience when communism collapsed in Eastern Europe and elsewhere in the former Soviet bloc. Now it is happening in Indonesia. Mr Habibie has made himself an easy target for criticism. Questions remain about his role in the Bank Bali scandal. His decision to drop the corruption investigation into former president Suharto caused outrage. That led to booing during his accountability speech to the National Assembly. This address was widely slated for adopting the wrong tone. The Jakarta Post even called it 'a shameless bid to stay in power'. With many factions vowing to vote down the speech, his fate is now all but sealed. Even if he is not forced to withdraw from the contest, it is hard to see him winning next week's election for president. Mr Habibie was never a natural leader. He has also committed many serious mistakes during his time as President, especially in failing to tackle corruption more vigorously. Nonetheless history may judge him more kindly than the rock-throwing protesters outside the National Assembly yesterday. In time he may come to be remembered, not for his errors, but as the leader who presided over the start of Indonesia's transformation into a democratic nation.