Sat, 12 Feb 2000

Megawati told to focus on next presidential election

MAKASSAR, South Sulawesi (JP): Megawati Soekarnoputri's withdrawal from the race for the top post in the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) will not affect her chances in the next presidential race, a party executive said on Friday.

PDI Perjuangan deputy secretary-general Haryanto Taslam said at a cadres meeting here that the party's support for Megawati's presidential bid remained intact even though she no longer held the party's top post.

"We'll be persistent in nominating Ibu Mega as the country's next president, because it is the unaccomplished mandate of the 1998 party congress," Haryanto said.

The party's first congress in Bali two years ago named Megawati the presidential candidate for the 1999 to 2004 period. She lost the election to Abdurrahman Wahid, but was consoled by winning the vice presidential election.

Haryanto said that it would be in the best interests of the party if Megawati did not run for a second term as PDI Perjuangan chairwoman.

"It is better for Ibu Mega not to hold two positions at once. Now that she is the vice president, it's much more important for her to focus on the state duties as mandated to her by the people," he said.

"And if Megawati is successful in her service as the vice president, it will help pave her way to the presidential seat."

Megawati has announced her readiness to be renominated in the party congress to be held in Semarang from March 26 to March 31. The congress was originally scheduled for 2003.

Haryanto said that to demonstrate what a professional party was and to set good example to her constituents, Megawati should decline another tenure as the party chief.

Earlier, PDI Perjuangan deputy chairman Dimyati Hartono expressed a similar wish for Megawati to reconsider her renomination bid in order to avoid the centralization of power.

Dimyati warned that the centralization of power could emulate the mistakes of former president Soeharto.

Eros Djarot, chief editor of weekly tabloid Detak, has stated his readiness to be elected and claims to have the support of Megawati.

PDI Perjuangan won last year's general election with 33.74 percent of the vote and gained 154 House of Representatives seats. (27/edt)