Sat, 18 Mar 2000

Police brace for PDI-P congress

SEMARANG (JP): Central Java Police plan to deploy at least 5,000 personnel to secure the upcoming Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) congress.

Provincial police chief Maj. Gen. Kadaryanto said the security personnel would consist of policemen and the party's civilian security force.

Kadaryanto said the congress, scheduled for March 27 to April 1, would need extra security because of the presence of the president, vice president, cabinet ministers and foreign dignitaries.

"The congress will draw both national and international attention, meaning that security will top our concerns. Hundreds of thousands of people, or even a million, will gather here," he said.

Under Megawati Soekarnoputri, the now vice president, PDI Perjuangan won the most votes in last year's general election.

Kadaryanto said security arrangements would cover the whole city, including Ahmad Yani Airport and the downtown congress venues.

The opening of the congress will be held at Semarang's recreational and exhibition center, while most of the congress sessions will take place at the Patra Jasa hotel, where the majority of the participants will stay.

President Abdurrahman Wahid is scheduled to open the congress, before proceeding to the neighboring towns of Demak and Grobogan.

Kadaryanto said the Diponegoro Military Command would ensure the security of the President and Vice President, while the police would secure the congress and the roads traveled down by VIPs.

"At least one helicopter will be provided for the President and the Vice President."

Kadaryanto called on local residents in particular and those in Central Java in general to maintain peace and order during the congress.

The same request was voiced by chief of Semarang Police Col. Mathius Salempang and Mayor Sukawi Sutarip.

There may be some changes in the event's schedule, with President Abdurrahman expected to declare the congress open on March 28 due to engagements in Jakarta, PDI Perjuangan executive Jakob Tobing said on Friday.

Abdurrahman was originally slated to open the congress on March 27.

Jakob said despite the postponement of the opening ceremony, the rest of the congress's agenda would remain as planned. (har/rms/sur)