Indonesian Muslim party rallies in Jakarta
May 25, 1999
JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNN) - About 1,500 supporters of Indonesia's United Development Party (PPP) rallied in Jakarta on Tuesday as their leader tried to distance the Muslim-oriented party from disgraced former president Suharto's regime.
Around 500 people flocked to Jakarta's Mampang field as PPP leader Hamzah Haz voiced optimism about the June 7 parliamentary election. Another 1,000 people waited on nearby streets.
"We are sure that in the upcoming election, PPP can get 20 percent of the voters. I am sure that we can be the number one in Jakarta with 40 percent of the voters," Haz said.
Haz, a minister under President B.J. Habibie until a few days ago, said PPP would nominate only its own members for president and vice president and not back another party's candidates.
PPP was one of the three parties allowed to contest general elections under former president Suharto. During that time, it consistently supported Suharto's nomination for president. His Golkar party won every general election and is still in power.
Recent polls suggest the PPP will gain a significant number of seats in the new parliament but will not be one of the leading parties.
Although the rally itself was calm, police earlier fired warning shots in Jakarta's Tanah Tinggi district as PPP supporters travelling to the gathering were attacked.
Several people were injured as the two sides fought with knives, but residents said the incident was gang-related and not political in nature. Three truckloads of soldiers later moved in to secure the area.
In his campaign speech, Haz tried hard to distance the PPP from the ruling party, saying PPP had been victimized by Golkar in the past.
"In the past our obstacle is Golkar...Golkar which has always manipulated our voting results," Haz said.
About 48 parties are contesting the June 7 parliamentary vote, Indonesia's first stab on democracy in decades.
The campaign period started last week and has rolled on peacefully so far with no reports of major clashes between supporters of rival parties. There have been fears that serious campaign violence could mar the vote.
Supporters of Indonesia's ruling Golkar party clashed with rivals from a major opposition party who attacked its local headquarters in Medan, Sumatra's main city, witnesses said on Tuesday.
They said dozens of supporters of the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P) on Monday evening hurled stones at Golkar headquarters in Medan, about 1,425 km (885 miles) northwest of Jakarta.
At least three people were injured, all Golkar supporters, witnesses said.
Golkar and PDI-P have been identified by analysts as two parties with a particularly bad relationship.
Indonesia's Habibie talks about rough year in power
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