Jakarta bans pictures and banners calling for Megawati-PPP alliance

THE Indonesian government has banned pictures and banners calling for an alliance between supporters of the Muslim-based United Development Party (PPP) and the ousted Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) leader Megawati Soekarnoputri, ahead of polls this month.

Interior Minister Yogie Mehmed said it cracked down on the use of such banners and pictures because they breached election rules.

“I declare that people are not to use banners. We never recognise any party but the three poll contestants,” news reports yesterday quoted him as saying. Mr Mehmed is also the general- election committee chairman.

Ms Megawati was removed as PDI chief by a government-backed congress last year and has been barred from contesting the May 29 election as her name had been omitted from the list of candidates supplied by the faction that had taken over leadership of the party.

Still claiming to be the PDI’s legitimate leader, she has asked her supporters not to take part in the campaign. They have been attending PPP rallies, carrying her picture and depicting an alliance between the two.

The PPP’s branch chief in Surakarta, Central Java, Mr Mudrick Sangidoe, was reported to have approached Ms Megawati last week to get her backing to allow her supporters to join the PPP, which observers here said she approved.

Armed forces chief of socio-political affairs Syarwan Hamid was quoted in The Jakarta Post yesterday as saying that the military would seize banners or T-shirts and ban chants in support of the “Mega-Bintang (star)” alliance. The star is used as the PPP’s symbol.

He urged the PPP to persuade Megawati loyalists not to join its rallies if they insisted on wearing or carrying the banned slogans.

He refused to speculate on who was behind the emerging alliance.

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