Sat, 10 Jul 2004

Mega departs for Bali vacation

Fabiola Desy Unidjaja, Jakarta

Confident of entering the likely runoff poll in September, President Megawati Soekarnoputri was flown in the presidential plane to the country's resort island of Bali, on Friday, for a three-day vacation.

Megawati, accompanied by her grandchildren and daughter-in-law Sri Laksmi Dewi, the wife of Megawati's eldest son Mohammad Rizky Pratama, will stay at the five-star Conrad Hotel at Tanjung Benoa.

Her husband, Taufik Kiemas, is scheduled to leave for Bali on Saturday (today), while her daughter, Puan Maharani, left on Thursday.

The president's office said on Friday that Megawati was not expected to attend any state events in the next three days.

"The President is slated to return on Sunday. She will be at the palace on Monday," a staff member of the office said.

"Ibu is tired, and she wants to rest for a while," one of her close aides told The Jakarta Post.

During the month-long campaign period that ended on July 1, Megawati, seeking a full five-year term, traveled extensively within the country.

She is currently ranked second in the provisional tally and expected to qualify for the second round of the presidential election scheduled for Sept. 20, along with former coordinating minister for political and security affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Aside from Megawati and Susilo, other candidates contesting the country's first direct presidential election on July 5 were Wiranto, Amien Rais and Hamzah Haz.

Antara reported that the presidential entourage arrived at Ngurah Rai airport at 11:30 a.m., with Bali Governor Dewa Beratha greeting Megawati.

Bali is the PDI-P's stronghold and Megawati has, so far, secured around 45 percent of the vote there.