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Indonesian Poll Results Delayed

August 2, 1999

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ Bogged down in bureaucratic bickering, the Indonesian Election Commission failed again today to release long-delayed results from an historic parliamentary vote.

The latest postponement was announced by frustrated commission members despite an order by President B.J. Habibie on Sunday to release the results immediately. It has been almost two months since Indonesians cast their ballots.

The results, delayed by weeks of painfully slow procedures and infighting among commission members, were held up last week when 27 parties failed to sign off on the tally, saying the election had been unfair.

The figures were to have been announced this morning after a meeting of the 53-member commission.

But the talks broke down amid squabbling, said one senior commission official, Jakob Tobing. Representatives of the parties are to meet later today to try to work out a solution.

The commission is made up of representatives from 48 political parties that contested the June 7 ballot as well as five government-appointed representatives.

On Sunday, Habibie ordered that the results be announced after an electoral watchdog committee rejected about 100,000 allegations of irregularities.

The election was the first free ballot in Indonesia since 1955 and was the first step in the selection of a new president.

The results are regarded as crucial to the democratic transformation of the world’s fourth-most populous nation after decades of authoritarian rule under ex-President Suharto, who quit amid protests and riots last year.

The final figures are expected to closely mirror previously released unofficial tallies that gave Megawati Sukarnoputri’s Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle a clear lead with 34 percent of the vote. The ruling Golkar Party, which underpinned Suharto’s 32-year reign and now backs Habibie, came in second with 22 percent.

Last week Megawati, the daughter of Indonesia’s founding leader, Sukarno, publicly staked her claim to the presidency and called on Habibie’s government to get ready to step aside.

Habibie, her main rival for the top job, has expressed confidence that he will stay in office when a special assembly, made up of the newly elected parliament and some government appointees, selects a head of state in November.

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