Wed, 22 Mar 2000

Eros blocked from contending in PDI-P's chairmanship poll

JAKARTA (JP): The central board of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) has taken a controversial vote, blocking Eros Djarot's participation in the party's upcoming congress in Semarang, Central Java.

The decision, if confirmed by party chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri and Secretary-General Alex Litaay would effectively kill Eros' nomination bid for chairmanship.

The party's executive board, in its weekly meeting on Tuesday, confirmed the South Jakarta branch's recent decision to bar Eros from the congress due to where he is domiciled.

The party's statute requires the congress participants to be sent from branches where were they reside. Eros' officially resides in South Jakarta but his membership in the party is registered in East Jakarta.

Eros denounced the executive board's vote, saying it was not confirmed until signed by the party's chairwoman and secretary- general.

He said he would disregard the meeting as nothing more than the result of an informal talk between executive board members.

Eros told The Jakarta Post that he was not convinced Megawati, whom he described as a pillar of democracy, would agree to the controversial decision.

"I'm still sticking to Secretary-General Alex Litaay's recent statement that the executive board had no reason to block my participation in the next election," he said.

PDI Perjuangan is slated to elect its chairperson during the upcoming congress. While Megawati's reelection is not in doubt, overzealous devotees of the Vice President have made overt attempts to block anyone from even putting themselves up for nomination.

Apart from Eros, one of the party's deputy chairmen, Dimyati Hartono, has also expressed interest in running.

Eros, who was not present during Tuesday's meeting, said he was informed about the decision by more than 20 party sub-branch chairmen who met with executive board member Suparlan after the meeting.

He alleged that Suparlan was among the few who were trying to prevent alternative candidates from competing in the election against Megawati.

"As the media knows, a powerful person is behind the move. They have tried to block everyone, except Megawati, from contending the election."

He claimed that a number of party figures from Kalimantan, Minahasa, Riau and South Sumatra had been intimidated against supporting his candidacy.

Eros further charged that if Megawati and Alex endorsed the decision, it would only show everyone that the party merely belonged to a certain group of individuals.

"I will also seek legal protection for my political rights in the party if I am eventually barred from contending the election," he said, pointing to the party statute which guarantees all party members the right to elect and be elected to the top post.

Eros pledged he would not be discouraged by the decision and would proceed with his candidacy and struggle to uphold democracy in the party.

"Of course, there is a small group of people who don't want democracy to be upheld in the party. My friends and I will continue to stage our resistance against this pro-status quo group," he said.

"My fate is not determined by this group, but by the congress. Let the congress decide whether to support my candidacy or not," he said.

Megawati, who has expressed her readiness to be reelected as party chairwoman, has already won the express commitment of a majority of the 315 party chapters and branches across the country. (rms)