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Indonesia military threatens to arrest election monitors

Dow Jones News - March 21, 1997

Jakarta – With 70 days to go before May 29 parliamentary elections, the military says it will crush any security threats and is threatening to arrest independent election monitors.

Maj. Gen. Tayo Tarmadi, military commander of West Java, said the country's Independent Election Supervision Committee is banned from his province, the official Antara news agency reported Friday. 'Security would not hesitate to clobber them,' Tarmadi was quoted as saying Thursday.

Interior Minister Yogie Memed said this month that foreigners would be invited to observe the elections. But army commander Gen. Hartono has warned that foreign observers could be arrested if they tried to supervise the voting.

The military says it will deploy more than 10,000 soldiers and policemen with armored vehicles, tanks and helicopters during the parliamentary elections. The army has conducted security drills with soldiers dressed in black rappeling from helicopters at business centers and major streets in Jakarta and other parts of the country.

Security is to be in place before the three authorized parties in Indonesia start official campaigning on April 27. President Suharto has said unspecified subversive forces might try to disrupt the elections. He said he would 'clobber' anyone who tried to do so.