Wed, 29 Mar 2000

Dubious delegates haunt PDI-P congress

SEMARANG, Central Java (JP): Some 115 delegates at the inaugural congress of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) still were unable to attend the proceedings on the second day because organizers doubted their legitimacy.

Their fate should be determined at the next plenary session, said chairman of the organizing committee Mangara Siahaan.

"The organizing committee has no authority to handle them. Let the congress decide," Mangara said.

A member of the steering committee, Mochtar Buchori, said the congress had set up a three-person team to look into the matter.

"So far, three cases, including the delegations from Purwodadi, Central Java and Riau, have been settled," he said.

The 115 delegates claim to represent the party's branches in North Sumatra, West Java, Central Java, South Kalimantan, North Sulawesi, South Sulawesi, Riau and Irian Jaya.

However, they were beaten to the congress by other delegates who claimed to be the rightful representatives of the branches. Only those recognized by the organizing committee were given the necessary credentials, accommodation, meals and other facilities.

The two contesting delegations from North Sumatra were locked in a war of words on Tuesday, each claiming to be the legitimate representatives of their region.

Also remaining unresolved on Tuesday was the participation of 61 delegates who claim to represent East Timor and the question of whether or not they have voting rights at the congress.

"There is a possibility that the congress would liquidate the East Timor chapter," congress spokesman Saul de Ornay said.

Commander of the Aitarak East Timor militia Eurico Gueteres argued, however, that the East Timor chapter should be retained.

"We are still Indonesians. Last year's poll didn't give us the right to make East Timor an independent country," he said.

Meanwhile, at a plenary session on Tuesday, the congress ruled that only the branches, and not the chapters, had voting rights in the election of the chairperson. It also set up four commissions to look into the party's statutes, programs, organizations and one to draft rules on the election process of the chairperson.

The central executive board was disbanded immediately after chairperson Megawati Soekarnoputri presented her report of accountability at the congress on Tuesday morning.

Megawati was later elected to represent the outgoing executive board in leading the congress, along with representatives from each of the 28 provincial chapters.

Outside the congress venue, Megawati supporters from the East Java city of Surabaya formed a convoy in pedicabs and cars to condemn plans by party figures Eros Djarot and Dimyati Hartono to contest the election of the chairperson against the incumbent leader.

Another group of about 70 youths, meanwhile, marched to the venue demanding the inclusion of political activist Pius Lustrilanang on PDI Perjuangan's next executive board.

"Pius has a strong commitment to advocating youth interests," Oka Dwi Chandra, who coordinated the march, said. (swa/har/rms)