Mon, 12 May 2003

Minister ready to challenge VP

JAKARTA: Vice President Hamzah Haz is likely to face a tough challenge from Minister of Social Affairs Bachtiar Chamsyah in a battle for the leadership of the United Development Party (PPP).

"My colleagues have frequently urged me to run for the party's high post, and I've decided to take up that challenge," said Chamsyah, a senior member of the Muslim-based party.

PPP, which is currently led by Hamzah, PPP is slated to hold its national congress from May 20 through May 24 in Jakarta. During the congress, party members will choose a new chairman to lead the party from 2003 through 2008.

So far, only Hamzah and Chamsyah have expressed a desire to run for the party's top post.

Chamsyah said on Sunday that his nomination would not disrupt his relationship with Hamzah, because the Vice President had said he welcomed younger members to lead PPP.

"Hamzah has welcomed younger members to lead the party and I am answering that call," he said.

Whoever is elected to the top post, he or she will play an important role in determining the party's presidential and vice presidential candidates as well as legislative candidates in the 2004 elections, when the country holds its first direct presidential election. --Antara