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Poll list seen as Suharto's ploy for reelection

South China Morning Post - January 27, 1997

Joe Leahy, Jakarta – The inclusion of four of President Suharto's children and scores of his key ministers and supporters in the candidates list for general elections in May may be part of moves by the ageing head of state to prepare the way for his own reelection next year, analysts say.

Indonesia's three official parties have released the names of 2,303 candidates nominated to run for election to the 500-seat lower house, or People's Representative Council, on May 29.

The ruling Golkar party and minority opposition groupings, the Indonesian Democratic Party and the United Development Party, will contest 425 seats in the mainly rubber-stamp legislature. The rest are government appointees.

Golkar's list reads like a Who's Who of Indonesia's rich and powerful.

It includes for the first time four of the president's children including his eldest daughter, Siti Hardiyanti Rukmana, his second son, Bambang Trihatmodjo, as well as senior ministers, despite Cabinet members being banned from sitting in the legislature.

However, analysts say most will never sit in parliament.

They say their inclusion is more likely aimed at securing votes for the party and smoothing the way for Mr Suharto's expected bid for reelection as president.

The president is selected by the upper house, the 1,000-seat People's Consultative Assembly, which consists of the People's Representative Council and 500 government appointees. Analysts say the appointees are often chosen from Golkar's general election candidate list.

For the past three decades, the assembly has always voted unanimously for President Suharto, 75."The [candidates] list seems to be aimed at creating a pool of people who, if needed, can be used for the presidential elections next year," said a foreign diplomat.

Allegations of nepotism against the ruling party were denied this week by the Minister of Home Affairs Yogie Memet, according to reports.

"You should not exaggerate the extent of nepotism in the house.

"There is nothing wrong with it if the candidates selected are capable of the job," Mr Memet was quoted as saying in The Jakarta Post.