Indonesian students meet on election strategy
January 9, 1999


JAKARTA, Jan 9 (AFP) - Representatives from Indonesian student groups met at a national library here to try to unite their strategies on general elections slated for June, press reports and student sources said Saturday.

All 300 representatives of seven main groups at the meeting Friday agreed on a common view to push for a fair and free polls, the Jakarta Post said.

But student activist sources disputed the reported agreement, and said the students, who were in the forefront of the battle to unseat former president Suharto in May, remained divided.

The Jakarta student group Forkot stuck to its demand that the students instead continue their push for Suharto's hand-picked succesor, B.J. Habibie, whose government they consider illegitimate, step down in favor of a transitional government.

Forkot, a strong force in the student movement, has been adamant since Suharto's fall in its demand for a transitional government they call the Indonesian People's Committee (KRI).

Fachri Hamzah, a student activist from the Muslim Student Action Union (KAMMI), called the Forkot demand irrational and said a general election was the only sound solution to Indonesia's present problems.

"We have only one option -- hold an election or let social revolution happen," Fachri told AFP.

A student activist and former chairman of the Triskati university students senate, Hendro, dismissed the differences in opinion among student groups as nothing to worry about.

"I see it as part of democracy. We must be tolerant of differences in opinion," Hendro told AFP.

He too said he believed a general election was a pre-condition for a democratic Indonesia "as long as it is held in fair and honest manner, involving students and an international body to monitor it."

At the Friday meeting however the students agreed that the Suharto-era parliament currently debating new politicial laws which will govern the June 7 elections, was "not to be trusted," the Post said.

They also said any decision to help fight for free and fair elections did not mean they accorded recognition of the Habibie government.

The almost-daily street demonstrations by students to push for a transitional government and the arrest of Suharto for alleged corruption during his 32 years in power, halted in December out of respect for the onset of the Moslem fasting month of Ramadan.