Mon, 07 Feb 2000

Megawati wins support for renomination

JAKARTA (JP): Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri has secured overwhelming support for her renomination as chairwoman of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan), a month before the party's congress in Semarang.

All but one of the party's 28 provincial chapters pledged during the precongress executive meeting on Saturday to keep Megawati as their leader following her success in leading the party to securing the most votes in last year's general election.

The delegation from Central Kalimantan did not explicitly declare its support of Megawati, but expressed satisfaction with her leadership.

Representatives of provincial chapters and regional branches will convene from March 26 to March 31 in the Central Java capital to elect the party's chief.

Speaking at the opening of the executive meeting on Friday evening, Megawati asserted her readiness for another term.

"Internal consolidation remains on demand to strengthen the party and to safeguard the nation from disintegration threats," she said.

The party's secretary-general, Alex Litaay, said on Saturday, Megawati's reelection would depend on support from the chapters and branches, not the central executive board.

"It will representatives of the chapters and branches who will vote on the chairmanship, not us."

Party executives remain divided over Megawati's acceptance to her nomination.

A number of party officials have suggested that Megawati withdraw her candidacy to let her concentrate on her state duties as the vice president and for regeneration in the party to take place.

Many others have hailed Megawati's move, saying her leadership was badly needed by the majority of party activists and supporters.

PDI Perjuangan's deputy chairman Dimyati Hartono defended opposition to Megawati's reelection bid, saying her jobs in the party would pose a serious hurdle to her government duties.

"Megawati should put national interest before party interest and abandon all her party tasks for the sake of efficiency," he said. But he admitted that there was no ruling which could bar her from holding a key post in a political party.

Dimyati, also a professor of constitutional law at Diponegoro University in Semarang, said his request for Megawati to decline the nomination did not belie his own ambitions.

"Of course, many have given their support for me but many more have criticized me. Thanks for all support and criticism, but I am in the position of supporting the party's primary program of upholding the true democracy in the country," he said.

Mochtar Buchori, another deputy chairman, concurred and said it was now time for the party to provide opportunities to younger party members.

"I cannot bar Megawati from taking the post, but if she is reelected, I suggest that she replace all members of the current central executive board with younger cadres," he said.

Postdam Hutasoit and Paulus said Megawati's acceptance of the nomination would be the true answer to the party's crisis of leadership, and the challenges the nation will face in the future.

Postdam said that for the time being, the party had no alternative candidates to replace Megawati.

Senior executive Sabam Sirait called for a halt in the debate over the chairmanship, saying the party's future would rely not only on one person but everybody's hard work in fighting for the party's programs.

Aside from electing a leader, participants of the congress will spend much of their time assessing the party's strengths and weaknesses and identifying the country's future challenges. (rms)