Tue, 26 Aug 2003

Lampung council rejects revote to replace Alzier

Oyos Saroso HN, The Jakarta Post, Bandarlampung, Lampung

Lampung legislative council rejected on Monday the central government's plan to hold a revote to replace the governor-elect, Alzier Dianis Thabranie, whose swearing-in was suspended over corruption charges.

"We held an election to select the governor in compliance with procedures, so there is no reason for the central government not to swear in Alzier Dianis Thabranie. He was elected democratically," council speaker Abbas Hadisunyoto said.

He was speaking to journalists after presiding over a plenary session of the council in Bandarlampung, Lampung.

On Saturday, Minister of Home Affairs Hari Sabarno said President Megawati Soekarnoputri would likely annul the result of the gubernatorial election on Dec. 30, 2003, and ask the Lampung legislature to run it again.

Abbas said the council's support for Alzier remained solid, citing the failure of Monday's session to approve a proposal to evaluate the council's leadership following the delayed inauguration of the governor-elect.

During the meeting, at least 42 councillors voted against the proposal to evaluate the council's leadership, and 31 others, who were opposed to Alzier's election, supported the request.

"The vote shows that my leadership is still backed by most of the council members. That's why there is no reason to hold a rerun election," asserted Abbas, one of Alzier's staunch supporters.

He said the council would take legal action if Megawati decided to annul the outcome of the gubernatorial election.

Alzier won the December election to defeat incumbent Lampung Governor Oemarsono, backed by Megawati, who also chairs the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan).

Oemarsono's defeat resulted in the dismissal of Abbas and nine other councillors in support of Alzier from PDI Perjuangan. However, Abbas still retains the post of council speaker.

Megawati, widely accused of authoritarian rule for her blatant interventions in the elections of governors, regents and mayors, is expected to face difficulties in canceling Alzier's victory, as such an annulment must first be proposed by council leaders.

Apart from Abbas, his three deputies -- Abdul Azib Zanim of the National Mandate Party (PAN), Mochtar Hasan of the National Awakening Party (PKB) and Zulkarnain of the Golkar Party -- are also supporters of Alzier.

Chairperson of the PDI Perjuangan faction in Lampung council Nurhasanah said a number of councillors would submit a request to the council leaders for a rerun of the election.

They will ask council leaders to convene a plenary session to cancel Alzier's election, she added.

"But that will be hard to pull off because Abbas is still backed by his deputies and many other pro-Alzier councillors," Nurhasanah said.

Abbas and his colleagues had, on at least seven occasions, traveled to Jakarta to meet Megawati to ask her to issue a decree on the swearing-in of Alzier. But the President apparently refused to receive them due to their defiance of her order to support Oemarsono.

Opposition to the plan for a revote to replace Alzier also came from several non-governmental organizations.

"If the election is rerun, money politics will recur. In the December election, each of the councillors received between Rp 25 million and Rp 1 billion from gubernatorial candidates," said Ahmad Yulden Erwin, coordinator of the Anticorruption Committee.

Alzier has been receiving treatment at Bumi Waras hospital, Bandarlampung, for pancreatic cancer since last Thursday. He was in detention for several weeks at the National Police Headquarters while facing an investigation into graft charges.

The elected governor is seeking a delay of his detention to undergo medical care in Japan.

His room at the hospital was tightly guarded by prosecutors in Lampung, who allowed only his relatives to visit.