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Effort to revoke ban on Indon communist party fails JAKARTA - A controversial proposal to legalize Indonesia's Communist Party - banned in 1966 by former president Suharto - has failed to win approval from the country's top legislative body. Members of President Megawati Sukarnoputri's party who had pushed for the ban to be repealed, said Monday the effort ran into opposition from a majority of factions in the 700-member People's Consultative Assembly.
These included Suharto's former Golkar Party, the politically powerful military which is also represented in the legislature, and Muslim parties. "We will drop the proposal (to revoke the ban on 'Marxist-Leninist political organizations') because it would create too much acrimony in the assembly,'' said Nuning Kertapati, a member of Megawati's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle.
Although communism as an ideology does not enjoy a significant following in today's Indonesia, the continuing ban has been criticized as contrary to democratic principles. The failure of the effort to revoke it illustrates the lingering influence of groups that formed the main pillars of the dictatorship - such as Golkar and the military brass - despite the fact that Suharto was ousted from office in 1998 and free elections held the following year.
At least 500,000 communists, trade unionists and other leftists were murdered in the aftermath of a military coup in 1965 when Suharto - then an army general - seized power from Indonesia's founding president Sukarno. A similar number were exiled to penal islands where at least half of them died from malnutrition or lack of basic medical care.
At the time, the U.S. administration supplied Indonesian generals with thousands of names of known communists and trade unionists. Most were arrested and executed by troops, historians say. Indonesia's highest constitutional body convenes for a brief period once a year to set national policy and receive reports from the president and senior officials.
This year, it is scheduled to repeal about 100 "obsolete laws'' left over from Suharto's reign. In a symbolic move, the assembly is expected to formally revoke the 1967 impeachment of President Sukarno - Megawati's father. Sukarno died under house arrest in 1970 and his family wants his name cleared. "Of course, we are going to continue pressing for Sukarno's good name to be rehabilitated,'' Kertapati said.



Posted in Politics @ 05 August 2003 00:02 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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