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More than 100,000 attend PDI rally

Agence France Presse - February 14, 1999

Jakarta – More than 100,000 supporters of Indonesian opposition politician Megawati Sukarnoputri crowded into a south Jakarta stadium Sunday to endorse her candidacy for the presidency.

The huge crowd, most dressed in the party's trademark red, packed the 120,000-seat Senayan sports stadium, shouting their endorsement for Megawati to lead them to victory in elections on June 7.

Undeterred by drizzling rain, the crowd overflowed into the surrounding sport complex as streams of flag-waving supporters, some in convoys of motor-cycles and buses, streamed into the complex throughout the day, witnesses said.

At the rally the party announced for the second time that Megawati, daughter of the country's first president Sukarno, would be their candidate for the presidency following the June polls.

The rally, officially called to launch the new logo of her Indonesian Democracy Party (Struggle) or PDI-S, marked the beginning of what is expected to be a turbulent campaign period leading up to the polls, the first since the fall of president Suharto in May of last year.

Audi Tambunan, chairman of the rally's "Declaration Committee," told journalists he estimated that the overflow crowd numbered 300,000 people, but the estimate could not be officially confirmed.

Megawati, manouvered into political but not popular disgrace in the last years of Suharto's regime, is considered one of the leading candidates for president, who will be chosen by the newly-elected parliament before the end of the year.

More than 100 parties have sprung up since the fall of Suharto though fewer than 30 percent of them are expected to qualify for the polls.