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PRD, PUDI and PNI walk-out of dialogue

Info-Pembebasan - December 7, 1998

The "inter-party dialogue" organised by the Gajah Mada University (UGM) [in Central Java on December 6, which was attended by around 78 political parties was engineered. The dialogue was used to "force" all of the parties to take part in Habibie's election which will be "free" and "democratic". In reality there is no evidence that the election will be free or democratic. The [new] political laws are still unclear and the dual social and political role of the military (ABRI) – which is the principle blockage to freedom – have not yet been withdrawn.

As a result, the head of the Central Leadership Committee of the People's Democratic Party (KPP-PRD), Faisol Reza, invited the forum to discuss the issue of ABRI's dual function because according to Reza, just going along with the elections without discussing ABRI's dual role would be to betray society's aspirations. However the moderator, Muchtar Mas'oed, interrupted him on the grounds that the time for [discussion on] the elections was short. Mas'oed also said that if he really did not agree with the concept of the committee, he should not have been part of the dialogue from the beginning.

It was quite clear that the dialogue was manipulated so that all of the parties would participate in the elections and Habibie's concept of the election. Because of this, the PRD representatives Reza and Dhita Caturani demonstrated with a "walk-out".

The walk-out action was followed by the United Democratic Party and the Indonesian National Party. The delegate from the Republican Party, Muchtar Sindang, also supported the action. According Sindang, the dialogue [was held] not just to discuss technical issues, but also the problem of ABRI's dual function and the freedom of political prisoners – particularly PRD political prisoners.

Meanwhile, an engineered student meeting was also held in Kaliurang. The meeting was organised behind the curtains by a pro-status quo group. Of those who were involved in the meeting, most were student senates, which for decades have been a tool to maintain of the regime. In its declaration, the meeting called on all political parties to participate in the elections and not to hold any mass actions. If any political parties held mass actions, they should be called upon to disband.

[Translated by James Balowski]