Fri, 08 Dec 2000

Sampang regent's office attacked by angry mob

SURABAYA (JP): Tired of the public service which has been crippled for months due to the absence of the regent, hundreds of residents of Sampang on the island of Madura ravaged the regent's office and set an official car on fire on Thursday.

The people, armed with sharp weapons in their hands and coming from several districts, went to the regent's office to meet Juned, the official in charge at the office, to demand that the newly-elected regent, Fadhilah Budiono, be sworn in soon.

It was not clear who started the rioting. The mob pelted the regent's office windows with stones and damaged an official car before setting it ablaze, eyewitnesses said.

Sampang Police Precinct chief Supt. Endroyoko confirmed the incident, saying that no fatalities were reported.

The attackers amassed at the building, yelling "Long live Fadhilah Budiono", Endroyoko said, adding that they were the supporters of Budiono the regent elect.

In the July election, Fadhilah, a senior police superintendent, secured the regent post with 23 votes, defeating the National Awakening Party (PKB) candidate by only one ballot.

Fadhilah, the outgoing regent, was supported by the United Development Party (PPP) and the Military (TNI)/National Police factions at the regency legislative council.

He was supposed to be sworn in sometime in August. However, the PKB faction strongly protested Fadhilah's victory, accusing him of involvement in swindling food aid for refugees from Sambas, West Kalimantan.

The protest led to the delay of his inauguration.

Early in September, some 5,000 people from various areas in Sampang, protested the delay by occupying the regency office.

In mid September, the saga continued with President Abdurrahman Wahid's order to postpone the inauguration of the reelected regent Fadhilah.

The President, the founding father of PKB, suggested an investigation be conducted into Fadhilah over the swindle allegation.

Governor Imam said at that time that an investigation team comprising officials of the Sampang regency administration and the Ministry of Home Affairs would be set up.

It was not clear if the team had been set up and what it had done, while Sampang has had no regent for months.

Imam told reporters on Thursday that there had been no administrative activities in the regency of Sampang. (nur/sur)