Megawati: I will end Indonesia bloodshed

THE INDONESIAN presidential front-runner Megawati Sukarnoputri broke down in tears yesterday as she vowed to end the bloodshed across her country that has killed thousands of people.

Breaking months of self-imposed silence, the opposition leader laid out her vision of a renewed country, free from corruption, dictatorship and militarism.

In her first major speech since her Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P) party won the most seats in the 7 June parliamentary election, Ms Megawati warned President BJ Habibie that his government was now merely a caretaker and should not make any important decisions.

She said she believed that she had the right to become the next president. Her party won 34 per cent of the vote. The ruling Golkar party was second with 22 per cent. Both are jockeying to form a parliamentary majority with smaller parties.

Ms Megawati promised that in power, she would investigate allegedly corrupt officials, including former president Suharto and possibly his protege, President Habibie. She also pledged to clean up the courts, where justice can often be bought, and reduce the political power of the army. But the daughter of Indonesia's first president, Sukarno, may still fail to become the country's fourth. With the backing of Islamic groups, President Habibie could still cling on to power.