Fri, 05 Mar 1999

48 parties eligible to contest election

JAKARTA (JP): The government announced on Thursday that 48 political parties had passed the Team of Eleven's screening and were qualified to contest the June 7 general elections.

Minister of Home Affairs Syarwan Hamid told a media conference here the parties have been screened by the independent team comprising 11 respected scholars and activists rather than by the government. This was meant to ensure a free and fair election, he said.

"The government did not interfere once in the whole selection process and the team, whose members are people with integrity, was really independent in making its decision ," he said.

The team was disbanded on Thursday to make way for the establishment of the National Elections Committee (KPU) which will be in charge of further steps in the organizing of the elections.

Among the 48 eligible parties are the United Development Party (PPP), the dominant ruling Golkar Party and the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI), which were the only three parties recognized under the New Order regime of Soeharto.

The new parties included in the list were the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan), the National Awakening Party (PKB), the National Mandate Party (PAN), the Justice Party, the Justice and Unity Party (PKP), the Indonesian Workers Party (PPI), the National Labor Party (PBN), the Ummat Nahdlatul Party (NU), the Democratic People's Party (PRD) and the Indonesian United Democratic Party (PUDI).

Syarwan, who chaired the outgoing General Elections Institute (LPU), said: "The team has worked day and night and has completed their task successfully. The results are the best they can do ... we cannot demand more from them," he said.

Some representatives of the disqualified parties marched to the general elections institute to protest the selection results, and to demand the government allow them to contest the poll.

Among them were the Indonesian Diamond Party (PMI), the Indonesian Republic Party (PRI), the Nationhood Party and the Ummat Dynamics Party (PDU).

Bambang Widhyatomo, PDU chairman, called on the government to allow all parties listed at the justice ministry to contest the elections in order to help form a democratic government.

"It is the parties' right to compete in the elections to prove whether they have public support or not," he said.

Agus Miftach, the chairman of the Indonesian People's Party (PARI), expressed skepticism over the selection.

"Despite the fact that we passed the screening, we think the results remain controversial because the team's existence and the new political laws upon which the team based their selection procedure are still being disputed by many parties," he said.

Team leader Nurcholish Madjid said separately the team had done its best to contribute to a peaceful, fair and free election.


He said out of 141 political parties registered at the Ministry of Justice, only 105 applied to the team for verification. Of the latter group, only 60 met the administrative requirements.

"Out of 60 verified, only 48 parties, including PPP, PDI and Golkar, passed selection," he said.

Both Nurcholish and team member Eep Saefulloh Fatah, however, also expressed doubts that the elections could go ahead fairly and freely and "produce" a stable government because of the great number of contestants.

"Nevertheless, we hope the election will go on fairly and without violence and produce a legitimate government in time," Nurcholish said.

Mochtar Buchori, one of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle's (PDIP) deputy chairmen, agreed 48 was too many.

Meanwhile, Syarwan refused to respond when asked about names to be proposed to President B.J. Habibie as government representatives on the National Elections Committee.

"I have no comments to make on the issue. Government representatives on the committee are to be announced in due course," he said.

"Of the utmost importance is that the government representatives must not come from the home affairs ministry. They should have credibility and integrity in order to develop the nation and its democracy," he said.

He insisted "I have proposed names of candidates and they are not from my ministry."

Afan Gaffar of the Yogyakarta-based Gadjah Mada University, Oka Mahendra, an expert staffer at the justice ministry, noted lawyer Adnan Buyung Nasution, former justice Adi Andojo Sutjipto, and Andi M. Mallarangeng have been tipped as people that the government would pick to represent it on the elections committee.

Syarwan said Habibie was expected to name government representatives on March 8, while the committee was to start work on March 10.

Buyung confirmed Syarwan has asked the five about their readiness to represent the government in the body. (rms/amd)