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Thousands of Megwati supporters go to Parliament

Media Indonesia (abridged) - April 16, 1997

Some five thousand pro-Megawati members of the PDI filled the street in front of the DPR/MPR building on Tuesday, 15 April, causing extensive traffic jams. They wanted to meet the chairman of Parliament, Wahono to ask Parliament and the upper chamber, the MPR, to press the government to restore the political rights of PDI members and restore Megawati as chair of the PDI, in conformity with the decision of the 1993 PDI special conference.

Barricades set up by seven hundred security force personnel from the Jakarta Police, the Jakarta military command, Brimob and the military police, along with anti-riot units, were on hand to prevent physical conflict between the security forces and the mass of people.

Hundreds more personnel blocked the road to the DPR building. Even so thousands of people filled the street in front of the building, causing traffic congestion which lasted several hours.

Heavy security surrounded the DPR building and a number of heavily armoured anti-riot vehicles (panser) blocked the rear entrance of the building. Ten police and army helicopters circled overhead. The security forces were conducting a security exercise, in preparation for the forthcoming elections.

Hundreds of PDI supporters began to gather outside the DPR building from 7.30 in the morning while PDI masses entered the capital, arriving from Bogot, Sukabumi, Bali and Surabaya.

Several major thoroughfares leading into the capital were blocked with traffic because of the large crowds.

Deputy chair of the pro-Mega PDI, Soetardjo Soerjogoeritno had a heated exchange with DPR security forces, asking them to open up the gate to led the crowd in but they refused to do so.

In the end, members of the PDI fraction of Parliament came out and met the crowds, after which Soetardjo asked the people to disperse.

The delegation led by Soetardjo read out an appeal to the MPR, the upper chamber calling on it to remind the government to respect the people's sovereignty and restore the political rights of the PDI members and the Megawati leadership, and urging the government to conduct the elections honestly. Among those signing the statement were twenty PDI functionaries who are still members of Parliament.

Thousands of people had rallied in response to a leaflet circulating widely, with a message from Megawati Sukarnoputri calling on tens of thousands of people to turn out in defence of people's sovereignty.