Tue, 09 Aug 1994

PPP candidates are embroiled in war of words

JAKARTA (JP): The war of words continued yesterday among the leading candidates for the chairmanship election in the Moslem- based United Development Party (PPP).

Candidate Sri Bintang Pamungkas accused incumbent chairman Ismail Hasan Metareum of fabricating rumors about the party and then denying them as if they were spread by his rivals.

Bintang said that Metareum has accused him of instigating students and youths to demonstrate their support for him (Bintang) in the upcoming congress that will take place from Aug. 28 through Sept. 1.

"Ismail Hasan Metareum has been irrational lately," Bintang told reporters.

In an obvious reference to Bintang, Metareum said on Sunday that "a party insider" was planning to mobilize students and youths to disrupt the upcoming congress.

"This is a strange move. I was wondering what he really means," Metareum said.

Metareum is believed to be the strongest among the five PPP prominent figures coveting the party's top slot.

In the latest show of support, scores of PPP local functionaries from 22 of West Java's 25 party branches demonstrated their loyalty at the party headquarters in Jakarta on Sunday.

Led by Odih Chudori Padma, head of the Lebak PPP branch, the cadres submitted a petition, pledging support for Metareum's second term of 1994-1999.

Top spot

Metareum, who is widely said to have the government's endorsement to retain his chair, has publicly announced his ambition to seek re-election.

Bintang has vowed to snatch it.

Bintang, an economic professor and an outspoken legislator who has repeatedly criticized the Armed Forces's role in politics, says he has strong support from youths and students.

Other potential candidates, Hamzah Haz, Matori Abdul Djalil and Karmani, three politicians from the powerful rural-based Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) organization, are still feeling out how much support they can obtain and are yet to announce if they will run for the party's top spot.

PPP is an amalgam of four Moslem organizations: NU, MI, PERTI and SI. Metareum is affiliated with MI, which has dominated the party's leadership since the party was formed 21 years ago.

Bintang said Metareum had sought government intervention, direct or indirect, in the congress to ensure his re-election. "But in public, he will reject any suggestion of intervention," he said.

Meanwhile, NU leaders in East Kalimantan reiterated their support for the candidacy of Matori, the current PPP secretary general.

"We have never reversed our commitment to support Matori," said Khairul Fuad, chairman of the Samarinda branch of PPP, in a statement made available to the press.

The East Kalimantan NU branch's backing for Matori announced last month blurred after a local PPP activist denied it in various newspapers.

Matori toured East Kalimantan recently to garner support for his candidacy. (pan)