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Hamzah elected Vice President JAKARTA - Hamzah Haz was elected the country's ninth' vice president on Thursday, bringing with him renewed hope for peace with a call for political parties to come together to support President Megawati Soekarnoputri's government. Speaking before a plenary session of the People's Consultative Assembly, Hamzah said harmonious cooperation between major political parties was needed to help the nation emerge from its prolonged crisis.
"With a national reconciliation, the nation is expected to be able to overcome the multidimensional crisis," he said in his address. Quoting a statement from Megawati's inaugural address on Monday, Hamzah said discipline, a favorable political climate and cooperation among all components of society were prerequisites to defusing the political and economic turmoil that has plagued the country for the past three years.
He also pledged to help the President develop an effective government and carry out development programs, especially in the areas of the economy and law enforcement. "I will help the President run the government, implement the State Policy Guidelines and create a favorable situation for (the guidelines) to materialize, and bolster cooperation with all ministers under Megawati's leadership," he said.
Hamzah was among those who, during the 1999 presidential election, opposed a female president leading the predominantly Muslim country. But with the full support of Megawati's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan), he garnered a simple majority of votes in the third round of the vice presidential ballot. Hamzah received 340 of 610 votes to beat Akbar Tandjung of the Golkar Party, who received 237 votes. There were 29 abstentions and four invalid ballots.
Hamzah's win was attributed to votes from the PDI Perjuangan faction, the Reform faction, interest group representatives and the Indonesian Military/National Police faction in the final ballot on Thursday. Akbar picked up some support from those who had backed the three candidates -- Agum Gumelar, Siswono Yudhohusodo and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono -- who lost in the two previous rounds of the ballot on Wednesday.
Alimarwan Hanan, the secretary-general of PPP, said the Axis Force, a grouping of Muslim parties, and a section of the interest group representatives and the Indonesian Military/National Police faction cast their votes for Hamzah. Sophan Sophiaan, the chairman of the PDI Perjuangan faction, said his party had consistently supported Hamzah.
"It's a wise policy to help reduce the public's resistance to Megawati's government to a minimum," he said. Hamzah was born in 1940 in West Kalimantan. He is married to two wives and has 12 children. He embarked on a political career when he was elected as a legislator representing the Nadhlatul Ulama, the country's largest Muslim organization. He won the PPP top job in 1998 before being appointed the state minister of investment under former president B.J. Habibie.
Hamzah rejoined the Cabinet as the coordinating minister for social affairs and poverty eradication under president Abdurrahman Wahid, albeit only for several months. Following his swearing-in on Thursday, Hamzah, along with the President, held a reception at the vice presidential office. Attending the event were several outgoing ministers and top military officers.
Akbar said he accepted his defeat in the vice presidential election, which he regarded as very democratic. He also pledged to support Megawati and Hamzah. "We all witnessed the ballot proceed fairly and transparently, and the Assembly held it in the spirit of a family. For Golkar, this is the best decision the Assembly has made during the Special Session," he said after the closing ceremony of the Special Session.
He admitted he was disappointed that PDI Perjuangan did not consider him the right person for the vice presidency. Akbar said his party was prepared to cooperate with the government to help overcome all of the major problems facing the nation, and to carry out the national development program to improve the public's welfare.
He called on Megawati to avoid the errors committed by Abdurrahman if she wished to keep her government safe until her term ends in 2004. Agum, the outgoing coordinating minister for political, social and security affairs, hailed the Vice President's call for a national reconciliation. "First of all, all sides must accept all political decisions made during the Special Session, and the political elite should work hand in hand to support the new government. More political maneuvering to disturb or topple the government will only cause the public to suffer," he said.



Posted in Politics @ 27 July 2001 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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