Tue, 21 Mar 2000

Legislators held hostage

MEDAN, North Sumatra: Civilian guards of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) are holding hostage 16 local legislators representing the party, whom they accuse of practicing money politics during a vote to elect the city's mayor and deputy mayor on Monday.

The hostage-taking started when the guards, locally known as satgas, heard that their candidates, Ridwan Batubara and Bahdin Nur Tanjung, had lost.

As if to add insult to injury, the PDI Perjuangan favorites finished at the bottom of the three-way race, despite the fact that the party dominated the legislature.

The majority vote went to the pair of Abdillah for mayor and Maulana Pohan for deputy mayor.

Of a total of 45 ballots cast, 35 were in favor of Abdillah and Maulana. Ridwan and Bahdin won four votes while the pairing of Zaufan Lubis and Fachri Mudadalam received six.

The angry guards demanded an explanation from the PDI Perjuangan faction and asked faction members to leave the legislative building.

Braving a police cordon, they took over the building's main gate and checked those who were about to leave. For almost two hours, no one, including PDI Perjuangan legislators, were allowed to leave until police suggested a representative of the guards to negotiate with the legislators.

As of late Monday, talks to release the hostages were still in progress. (39/emf)