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VOICE OF AMERICA
SLUG: 2-314503 Indonesia / Politics (L-O)
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE=03/26/04

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

TITLE=INDONESIA POLITICS (L ONLY)

NUMBER=2-314503

BYLINE=SCOTT BOBB

DATELINE=JAKARTA

CONTENT=

VOICED AT:

INTRO: Campaigning for Indonesia's parliamentary elections has entered its final week and two dozen political parties are rallying in the streets. Correspondent Scott Bobb reports from Jakarta that there are concerns election preparations in the world's fourth most populous nation may not be complete by election day, April 5th.

TEXT: Campaigning intensified Friday, as political parties held rallies in sports centers and staged previously forbidden street parades that celebrated democracy but disrupted traffic in the major cities.

/// SOUND OF MEGAWATI SPEAKING AT RALLY ///

President Megawati Sukarnoputri called on support for her Indonesia Democratic Struggle party at a large rally in the east Java region.

But reports say the election commission might not be ready to deliver voting materials to all of the thousands of polling centers throughout the sprawling archipelago. With 10 days to go, some commentators are questioning whether the voting should be postponed.

The director of the democratization program at the Asia Foundation, Tim Meisburger, notes that more than two thousand distinct elections will be held across a nation with 17 thousand islands, and each voter will be casting separate ballots for four different assemblies.

/// MEISBURGER ACT ///

The most striking thing of (about) this election is actually its complexity, that there are so many different elections going on at one time. There are elections at the national level, regional level and local level, all taking place on the same day.

/// END ACT ///

However, election officials say they will be ready in time. And other experts, like the Center for Strategic and International Studies Landry Subianto, says a postponement will only create problems.

/// LANDRY ACT ///

This (postponement) will not be acceptable to political parties, because they are now ready for the battle. They have spent so much energy, and most importantly, strategy.

/// END ACT ///

Mr. Landry says postponing the election will also raise doubts about the results, and could damage the credibility of the electoral commission before Indonesia's presidential elections three months from now.

/// REST OPT ///

The presidential election will mark the first time Indonesians vote directly for their president. And the upcoming parliamentary elections will determine which parties can field presidential candidates and the alliances they might form to select vice-presidential candidates.

Two large secular parties left over from the authoritarian era of former President Suharto are vying with a dozen smaller, mostly Islamic parties for 550 seats in the national parliament. In addition, voters will choose provincial and local assemblies as well as representatives to a national legislature formed along regional lines.

Opinion polls show the largest number of declared supporters back either the president's P-D-I-P, or the Golkar party that dominated politics under Mr. Suharto. But they also show that more than one-half of the 147 million registered voters are undecided. (signed)

NEB/HK/SB/MH/RH



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