Tue, 05 Aug 2003

Megawati's gubernatorial candidate loses

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Syahrial Oesman won the gubernatorial election for South Sumatra province on Monday, defeating incumbent governor Rosihan Arsyad, a retired military officer backed by President Megawati Soekarnoputri.

Syahrial, nominated by the Reform faction of the provincial legislative council, will be the first ever civilian to govern South Sumatra, where Megawati's husband Taufik Kiemas was born.

With Mahyuddin as running-mate, he garnered 38 votes, while the Rosihan/Radjab Semendawai pairing received only 37 votes in the election by the 75-member council, Antara reported.

Another candidate Harry Salman Farizy Sohar and his running mate Marzuki Alie received no votes.

Before the council accepted the results, the votes were counted three times as the first count indicated that 38 councillors had voted for Syahrial and 36 others for the incumbent governor, obviously inconsistent with the total number of voting members.

All 75 councillors attended the election, including several who were seen arriving at the council's building in wheel chairs.

The ill legislators left the venue shortly after casting their votes in the election presided over by council deputy speaker, Zamzami Achmad and deputies Natsir Djafar and Amir Putra.

The Megawati-led central board of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) coalesced with the Golkar Party in nominating Rosihan for another five-year term. The coalition should have assured his victory.

But many of the Golkar and PDI Perjuangan councillors appear to have ignored the coalition and supported Syahrial and Mahmuddin.

Syahrial's total votes were believed to comprise of 14 from PDI Perjuangan eight from Golkar, six from the Coalition Faction, six from the Reform Faction and four from the military-police faction.

This was indicated by the predictions calculated by Syahrial's team and released just hours before his victory.

Ahead of the gubernatorial election, Megawati fired Nuriswanto as deputy chairman of PDI Perjuangan's South Sumatra chapter for his stance against Rosihan.

It seems likely that other PDI Perjuangan councillors will face similar fates for defying the decision of the party's central board.

Megawati also dismissed a number of PDI Perjuangan executives in provinces including Jakarta, Central Java and Lampung, for refusing to back her gubernatorial candidates.

Similarly, she has tried to intervene in the Bali gubernatorial election -- scheduled for Aug. 7 -- by ordering her party councillors to vote for incumbent Governor Dewa Made Beratha who is vying for reelection.

The order resulted in Anak Agung Ngurah Oka Ratmadi of PDI Perjuangan, currently the regent of Badung, to withdraw his bid for the governorship.

Megawati's unpopular move drew strong criticism from her own supporters and analysts, who have called her an authoritarian leader emulating former president Soeharto.

Monday's election proceeded peacefully amid tight security at the South Sumatra legislative council.

A group of protesters tried to reach the council's compound, but failed.