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Election Officials Refuse Megawati as Candidate

September 16, 1996

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ Officials overseeing Indonesia’s 1997 elections refused Monday to accept the top pro-democracy leader as a parliamentary candidate, saying a military-backed rival will lead her party instead.

Supporters of Megawati Sukarnoputri were turned away when they tried to submit their list of Indonesia Democratic Party candidates. The National Elections Committee said it had already accepted a list led by the government-recognized party chairman, Suryadi.

The government allows only three political parties to operate: the democratic party, the ruling Golkar Party and the Islamic United Development Party. Authorities said all three had submitted their lists of candidates at 9 a.m. Monday.

Five hours later, Megawati’s supporters arrived at the election committee office, which was surrounded by more than 100 soldiers. Megawati was not present.

Party official Sutarjo Suryoguritno said the group did not come earlier because they wanted ``to avoid unnecessary incidents.″ He did not elaborate.

Interior Minister Yogie Memed told reporters that if the democratic party wished to nominate additional candidates, ``it must be done through the chairman, Suryadi.″

R.O. Tambunan, a lawyer for Megawati said they would file a lawsuit against the committee for refusing to accept the nominations ``because as far as we are concerned, Megawati is still the rightful leader of the party.″

Suryadi replaced Megawati as party leader in June at a military-organized congress. Megawati has filed a lawsuit against the government seeking reinstatement.

Indonesia’s worst rioting in decades broke out on July 27 when police raided the party’s headquarters to break up a sit-in protest by Megawati’s supporters. At least five were killed and 74 are still missing.

Indonesia’s three parties will compete in June for 425 parliamentary seats. Megawati currently is a parliament member.

Megawati is the daughter of Indonesia’s founding president, Sukarno, who was ousted in 1966. President Suharto has ruled the nation since then.

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