Unrest fears as Indonesia poll rejected

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The Independent Online
FEARS OF fresh civil unrest in Indonesia are growing after the country's election commission yesterday rejected the results of last month's polls, and President BJ Habibie gave it a week to check complaints of voting irregularities.

The failure to endorse the results came after 27 of the 48 parties which contested the 7 June election refused to sign off on the final vote count because of claimed irregularities.

Each of the 48 parties has a seat on the panel, which requires signatures from two-thirds of its members to endorse the result. The five major parties who won most of the seats in the new parliament have all signed off.

"I'm very disappointed with the attitude of the small parties," said Miriam Budiarjo, who sits on the supervisory committee which will investigate complaints. "If we look at the list, all of the parties which didn't sign are those which didn't win seats in parliament."

Indonesians had been hoping the elections would wipe away the traces of the Suharto dictatorship and usher in a reformist government. Nearly two months later, they are still waiting for the new parliament.

Unofficially, the results are clear. The opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri's party came first with 34 per cent of the vote, followed by the ruling Golkar party with 22 per cent.

The election was the first free ballot in Indonesia in 44 years and the result is regarded as crucial to the democratic transformation of the world's fourth-most populous nation after decades of authoritarian rule.

Monday's delay could in turn postpone the formation of a new parliament and the electoral college that is scheduled to pick the next president.

By political sleight of hand, Mr Habibie could still beat Ms Megawati in the presidential election, even though she is measurably more popular with the electorate.

t Indonesian troops executed 41 people after a raid on a remote village in North Sumatra's troubled Aceh province, witnesses and human rights activists said. The military said the dead were all separatist guerrillas.