Thu, 11 Aug 1994

Trouble is brewing in PDI party again

JAKARTA (JP): Trouble is brewing again in the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) as a number of party leaders in the region denounced the leadership of Megawati Soekarnoputri.

In Aceh and North Sumatra, the party has been split between pro- and anti-Megawati elements, with each one having their own leadership boards.

Megawati, the daughter of former president Sukarno, was swept to the PDI leadership last December by popular vote during a party congress. She outdid the candidates who had the tacit support of the government.

Now as she tours the regions to oversee the election of the local boards, she is finding that many of those who opposed her leadership have continued to try to undermine the party.

Her critics said she meddled too much in the affairs of the regional boards and pushed for her supporters to fill the top posts in the regions.

In Aceh, Thaib Ali announced this week the formation of his own board after he lost an election he called unfair and not truly reflecting the aspirations of the local PDI supporters.

In Medan, Edy Suparman, a senior leader of PDI's North Sumatra chapter, said he is also planning to form his own board and denounced the line up of the new board as unrepresentative.

Edy said many of those appointed to the board at the regional congress on Aug. 4-5 were chosen because of their wealth.

He also expressed his disappointment in Megawati. "She has not inherited the charisma of her father," he said as quoted by the Republika daily.

Megawati also faced dissension during the congress of the PDI's East Java chapter which failed to elect a new board last month. There were also problems during the West Java chapter's congress.

The chairman of PDI's chapter in Jakarta, MAS Alex Asmasoebrata, meanwhile appealed to all party members nationwide for restraint.

Alex said the conflicts in the various regions are harming the party's image.

He denied the suggestions that Megawati had been dictating the course of the various regional congresses. "I think the people who made these suggestions were simply aiming to discredit Megawati."

Alex, one of the PDI leaders who rallied behind Megawati during the party congress last December, also announced on Tuesday his intention to run for election when the Jakarta chapter holds its congress next month.

He is being challenged by Untung Soetomo, a member of the party's central executive board, who announced his candidacy earlier. (emb)