Tue, 29 Jul 2003

PDI Perjuangan considers maintaining Mega-Hamzah

Andi Hajramurni, The Jakarta Post, Sinjai, South Sulawesi

The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) is asking Vice President Hamzah Haz to maintain his partnership with the party's chairwoman President Megawati Soekarnoputri for the presidential election next year, a party official said.

PDI Perjuangan deputy chairman Roy B.B. Janis told reporters on Monday the duo of Megawati and United Development Party (PPP) chairman Hamzah had proven to be a solid team to lead the country for the 2004/2009 period.

"We consider the tandem of Mega and Hamzah is still eligible to lead the nation for the next tenure," Roy said.

However, Roy said his party had not formally asked for Hamzah's acceptance to become Megawati's running partner in the 2004 presidential election, which will see people choose the country's number one directly.

Roy said PDI Perjuangan prefers Hamzah as he leads a party which represents Muslims, who make up the majority of the country's 215 million of population.

PDI Perjuangan, one of several parties claiming to inherit the teachings of founding father Sukarno, is known to represent nationalists.

A combination of nationalism and Islam, according to Roy, is a dream combination that will lead the country to a stable government.

During the vice presidential election at the People's Consultative Assembly in July 2001, Megawati ordered PDI Perjuangan legislators to vote for Hamzah at the expense of Golkar chairman Akbar Tandjung.

During the latest national meeting in May, Megawati hinted that she would like to name her running partner from among Muslim figures.

Roy said PDI Perjuangan and PPP share a history of suffering from injustice during the Golkar-backed New Order regime that fell in 1998.

But Roy said PDI Perjuangan would leave the decision to accept the offer to Hamzah, who has been nominated as presidential candidate by his party.

Although there have been no formal talks on the possible coalition between the two parties, Roy said most of PPP's leaders had expressed interest in forming another cooperation.

"We have discussed that possibility informally. PPP executives agree that the duo of Mega and Hamzah must be taken into consideration," Roy said.

He said PDI Perjuangan expected Hamzah to accept the offer as the party had no eligible cadre to contest the election.

For the general election, Roy expressed optimism PDI Perjuangan would win "a significant number of votes".

PDI Perjuangan won 34 percent of the votes in the previous general election in 1999, but Megawati had to be content with the vice presidential post after losing to Abdurrahman Wahid of the National Awakening Party in the ensuing presidential election. Abdurrahman was dismissed by MPR in 2001, paving the way for Megawati's rise to presidency.

PPP finished third behind PDI Perjuangan and Golkar in the 1999 general election.

The presidential election bill endorsed earlier this month limits the number of parties allowed to field candidates in the upcoming presidential election to those that garner 5 percent of the vote or 3 percent of the seats in the legislative election scheduled for April 5.