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Asia:Indonesia: Megawati Supporters
- Subject: Asia:Indonesia: Megawati Supporters
- From: suriya@xxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Sun, 23 May 1999 19:43:00
Subject: Asia:Indonesia: Megawati Supporters Choke Jakarta Streets in Indonesian Campaign
Megawati Supporters Choke Jakarta Streets in Indonesian Campaign
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) -- Hundreds of thousands of Indonesians poured into
streets around Jakarta on Sunday, waving flags and honking horns in a huge
of support for presidential front-runner Megawati Sukarnoputri, daughter of
founding President Sukarno.
Vehicles driven by members of the Indonesian Democracy Party in Struggle, or
PDIP, choked Jakarta's streets and major arteries, bringing normally light
Sunday traffic to a standstill.
It was by far the most impressive turnout so far for any party after five days
of campaigning for the crucial June 7 election, which will determine the
of a new Parliament whose lawmakers are to form a special assembly that will
select a president.
There was little sign of the other nine parties that were authorized to hold
rallies Sunday in a rotating schedule aimed at avoiding conflict between
supporters of the major groups. The ruling Golkar Party is to have its first
The election will be the first held since authoritarian President Suharto quit
after riots and protests 12 months ago. Under Suharto, only three officially
approved parties were allowed to contest elections. This time 48 parties will
On Sunday, a small plane dropped pro-Megawati leaflets through clouds of
exhaust fumes. Noisy motorcycles carried up to five people and overcrowded
buses had passengers on their roofs. One man was killed when he fell from the
back of a truck.
An estimated 80,000 people crowded into a vacant field near a golf course 35
miles from downtown Jakarta where Megawati arrived in a helicopter to make her
first campaign speech.
Megawati urged supporters to turn out in force on election day to get rid of a
government "that is not respected by the people" and to ensure there is no
"Stay there and watch the counting because our experience in the past showed
that thousands of our supporters came to vote, but when the results came, in
some places, the PDIP got nothing," she said as the crowd shouted "Long live
"Taking part in the election is easy but (we) have to win. That's very
difficult," she said.
President B.J. Habibie, who is lagging in opinion polls, says it will be the
freest poll in 44 years.
Megawati came to prominence in 1996 when Suharto tried to oust her as head of
her opposition party after she called for democratic reforms. Ironically, it
was Megawati's father, Indonesia's first President Sukarno, who ended the
nation's last experiment with unfettered democracy in 1955.
Sukarno later declared himself president for life before being replaced by
Suharto after an attempted communist coup in 1965.
Megawati is leading in opinion polls. But most analysts say she will not
enough support to win a majority in the 500-seat Parliament that has been
dominated by the Golkar Party since the early 1970s.
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