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Prominent Dissident Reconsiders Whether to Obey Summons

August 4, 1996

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ Indonesia’s most prominent dissident is reconsidering whether she will appear for police questioning on rioting that followed a raid on her party’s headquarters, her lawyers said Sunday.

The government contends last week’s riot _ the worst violence here in two decades _ was orchestrated by leftists trying to end the 30-year regime of President Suharto, although it has released no evidence to support its claim.

Lawyers for Megawati Sukarnoputri had said earlier that she would obey a summons to question her about civil unrest and about anti-government rallies at the headquarters held in defiance of an official ban.

President Suharto must approve the questioning since Megawati is a member of parliament, but her lawyers said they have yet to see a copy of Suharto’s letter of approval.

``If she does not come, we will present her response to the police,″ said attorney Luhut Pangaribuan. He said another problem is that the summons specifies Megawati as a witness but does not say who the suspect is.

Security officials say they want to question Megawati because she let speakers criticize the government at rallies outside party headquarters.

About 50 police were still posted Sunday at the headquarters of the opposition Indonesia Democratic Party, where a July 27 raid led to riots that left at least three people dead and more than 90 injured.

Police and soldiers raided the headquarters to force out Megawati’s supporters, who were staging a sit-in to protest her ouster as leader at a party congress organized by the military.

Suharto overthrew Megawati’s father, Indonesia’s founding President Sukarno, in 1966. He apparently fears that her growing following _ especially among admirers of her late father _ threatens his government’s authority.

Jakarta’s governor Surjadi Soedirdja estimated the damage from the riot at $42 million, with 22 buildings and 91 vehicles destroyed. Police have charged 123 detainees with subversion and other crimes. Another 113 were released.

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