Fri, 11 Jun 2004

Court tells Gus Dur and KPU to make peace over election case

Urip Hudiono, Jakarta

The Central Jakarta District Court offered on Thursday to mediate talks between former president Abdurrahman "Gus Dur" Wahid and the General Elections Commission (KPU), who are engaged in a legal battle over the commission's disqualification of Gus Dur from the presidential election.

The talks would last a maximum of 22 days, in accordance with the Criminal Law Procedures Code. The dispute would return to the court for a legal settlement if the two parties were unable to reach an amicable resolution.

During a hearing on Thursday, presiding judge Cicut Sutiarso offered the two parties seven judges from the court who would be available to mediate the talks: H. Hamdi, Agus Subroto, Aman Barus, Abdullah, Mulyani, Sugito and Binsar Siregar.

Gus Dur's lawyer, Ikhsan Abdullah, originally asked that judge Agus Subroto serve as the mediator. However, Agus will be on leave for some 12 days in the Netherlands, which would have hampered the mediation, so Cicut asked the two sides to consider another mediator.

After some negotiation, the parties agreed on Binsar Siregar.

Cicut adjourned the trial until July 9 at the latest, at which time the court will hear the results of the mediation.

Gus Dur filed a lawsuit late last month against the KPU, the Indonesian Medical Association (IDI) and the Ministry of Health after he was disqualified from the July 5 presidential election because of health reasons.

The former president, who was nominated by the National Awakening Party (PKB), has impaired vision as a result of two minor strokes.

Following his disqualification, the PKB threw its support behind Golkar Party presidential candidate Wiranto and his running mate Solahuddin Wahid, who is Gus Dur's brother.

The health requirements for presidential candidates were jointly drawn up by the KPU and the IDI. The health ministry, meanwhile, authorized the cooperation between commission and the medical association.

Gus Dur has said that KPU Regulation No. 36/2004 on the health requirements for presidential candidates is discriminatory and violates human rights, while his disqualification from the election breached Law No. 23/1992.

In filing his suit, Gus Dur demanded Rp 1 trillion (US$110 million) in nonmaterial damages and requested the court issue an asset preservation order for properties owned by the KPU and the IDI.

The Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court earlier refused to hear Gus Dur's demand for a judicial review of the KPU ruling disqualifying him from the election.