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Indonesian political trials to finish before election campaign: Official

Agence France Presse - February 1, 1997

Jakarta – Indonesian Attorney General Singgih has indicated that several political trials now underway could conclude before the start of the election campaign in April, a report said here Saturday.

"We hope that all the trials will go according to the court rules and conclude within the next three months, that is, before the start of the campaign," Singgih was quoted as saying by the Kompas daily. Around 120 million Indonesians are to go to the polls on May 29.

Between April 25 to May 23 Indonesia's three political parties – the United Development Party (PPP), the ruling Golkar party and Indonesian Democracy Party (PDI) – will hold election campaigns. Indonesian courts are hearing a dozen controversial political cases, including the subversion trials of pro-democracy and labor activists and a presidential insult case by a parlimentarian.

Activists of the small pro-democracy People's Democratic Party (PRD) and independent union leader Muchtar Pakpahan were arrested and charged with subversion shortly after a mass riot here on July 27.

The riots, which left five people dead and 149 others injured, followed the attack on the PDI headquarters by a troop-backed rival party faction, until then controlled by Megawati Sukarnoputri.

Indonesia's crackdown on dissent since the riots has received harsh international criticism, including from the United States and the European Union. Indonesia's three parties will compete at the May elections for 425 seats in the 500 seat parliament.

President Suharto personally appoints to the parliament 75 members of the armed forces, who are not allowed to vote in the elections. Golkar has won each of the five general elections held since 1971. lis/be/lk