Indonesia Poll Team Sees Agreement By Deadline
January 15, 1999

Yahoo! News

Amy Chew

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesian political parties debating new election laws made a breakthrough on Friday in deadlocked discussions, meaning June's election would go ahead as planned, a top government official said.

Analysts had warned that any delay in the general election would almost certainly spark further unrest in the country which is already struggling with its worst political and economic crisis in 30 years.

``Everything will be resolved by January 28, I guarantee that,'' said Ryaas Rasyid, head of the government team charged with drafting political laws which would pave the way for the election scheduled for June 7.

January 28 is the government-imposed deadline to decide on the new laws which are designed to bring Indonesia into a new era of democracy after decades of autocratic rule.

Earlier, Andi Mallarangeng, another member of the team, had warned the election could be delayed if there was no breakthrough in the talks by Friday.

Parliament goes into recess next week for the Muslim end of fasting month celebrations and resumes January 25.

``Two crucial issues were solved this afternoon and with this, we can move toward a consensus on all the main issues late this evening,'' Rasyid told Reuters.

``There will be no delay in elections because we will meet the deadline,'' he said.

The elections are at the heart of sweeping economic and political reforms promised by President B.J. Habibie when he replaced the autocratic Suharto who was ousted by mass protests, ravaging economic crisis and deadly riots in May after a 32-year rule.

Agreement was reached on the proportional electoral system and government representation in the election commission, and there was movement toward a consensus on other issues, Rasyid said.

The debate had earlier been stymied over several key issues -- the number of seats allocated for the armed forces in parliament, membership of civil servants in the ruling Golkar party, a proportional system for elections and composition of the supervisory committee for the elections commission.

With the breakthrough, two main issues remain -- the military's seats in parliament and the composition of the supervisory committee for the election commission.

Rasyid said the issue of civil servant membership in Golkar has been taken out of the political laws and would be dealt with separately.

``The issue will be dealt with through a government regulation regulating the membership of officials in political parties,'' he said.

Parliament started debating the draft political laws on October 2.

A special committee, comprising representatives from the three official political parties and members of the armed forces, has been set up to speed up the debate on the political laws. The draft laws would then be put to the entire parliament for approval.