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Megawati tells Indonesia to accept poll result JAKARTA - A tearful President Megawati Sukarnoputri has told Indonesians to accept the result of the country's landmark leadership ballot, but has not explicitly conceded defeat to her former security chief. Megawati's team has threatened to challenge the vote count from some areas, putting winner Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in a bind and risking what could have been an orderly end to Indonesia's first direct presidential election.
The election commission on Monday declared Yudhoyono the winner of the September 20 presidential run-off by 25 million votes. "Whoever is chosen in a democratic election has to be accepted, because that is a victory for all of us," Megawati, choking back tears, said in a speech on Tuesday at a ceremony to mark the anniversary of the military's founding. Former general Yudhoyono was also present at the ceremony, one of Megawati's last official engagements. The two did not speak to each other before it began.
Yudhoyono has refrained from making a victory speech as he tries to reach out to Megawati and her party, the second-biggest in parliament. He quit her cabinet as security chief in March after a bitter row over his presidential ambitions. The impasse could drag on Indonesia's financial markets, which have rallied on his crushing win. Jakarta stocks ended 2.5 percent higher at a record close on Monday, and were off around half a percent in mid-morning trade.
The challenges facing Yudhoyono are enormous. Economic growth is sluggish, graft endemic, foreign investment poor and Islamic militants linked to al Qaeda on the loose. Indonesians have high hopes in his popular mandate. "I think the high expectations are a reflection of the desperate feeling in Indonesia that they have waited too long for jobs, for stability, for prosperity, for an end to corruption," said Jeffrey Winters, an Indonesia expert at Chicago's Northwestern University.
Megawati has until Thursday to file a complaint over the count at the Constitutional Court. Her spokesmen could not be reached to comment on Tuesday. The head of the Constitutional Court said he had met Megawati but gave no timeframe, the Kompas newspaper reported. He did not specify Megawati's intentions.

Rocky transitions

The United States and Australia have congratulated Yudhoyono. "We congratulate Indonesia on these historic elections which set a strong example for the region and emerging democracies everywhere," deputy U.S. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said. Political transitions have rarely been smooth in the world's most populous Muslim nation.
When legislators sacked Megawati's predecessor, Abdurrahman Wahid, in 2001 for incompetence, the Muslim cleric refused to budge from the presidential palace for three days. Yudhoyono, 55, will be sworn in on October 20. He has said his cabinet will start work on that day. He could announce some positions before then, aides have said. Yudhoyono has promised to end years of weak economic growth, to create more jobs, reduce red tape, stamp out the graft that ordinary Indonesians despise and fight terrorism.
Foreign businessmen hope Yudhoyono will improve the investment climate. "A lot of us would like a clear, strong and frequent message that foreign investment is a part of development and the recovery plan," said James Castle, a business and political consultant in Jakarta. "That foreign investors are a partner in development, not an enemy, and that we are to be treated fairly according to the rules and that these rules are to be applied consistently. Megawati never said that, despite many entreaties."
The election commission said Yudhoyono won 60.6 percent of the ballot to Megawati's 39.4 percent. It has declared the result valid, as have foreign and domestic monitors.



Posted in Elections @ 05 October 2004 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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