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theSun | MONDAY JULY 6 2009 news without borders Susilo holds aces as Indonesia goes
news without borders
Susilo holds aces as
Indonesia goes to polls
JAKARTA: Indonesians will vote in
presidential elections on Wednesday
with opinion polls showing incum-
bent Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
(pix) holding all the aces despite criti-
cism of his market-friendly economic
The ex-general is hoping to win
a clear majority and avoid a run-off
in September after his centrist Demo-
cratic Party tripled its vote in April’s
general elections to become the larg-
est party in parliament.
Susilo, known in Indonesia by
his initials, SBY, won a landslide victory over
Democratic Party of Struggle leader and ex-
president Megawati Sukarnoputri to become
the country’s first directly elected head of state
in 2004.
If the 59-year-old wins he will be the first
president to serve consecutive terms in the
“Reformasi” era of democratic transition that
began with the fall of the Suharto dictatorship
in 1998.
“In theory, the significance of this election
is in the context of our efforts to consolidate
democracy,” Indonesian Institute of Sciences
political analyst Ikrar Nusa Bhakti said.
“In practice, it’s a battle of egos.”
Trailing the president in most opinion
polls is Megawati, the 62-year-old daughter of
Indonesia’s independence hero, Sukarno, and
the sentimental figurehead of the anti-Suharto
movement in the late 1990s.
Also making a long-shot bid is Susilo’s vice-
president, Jusuf Kalla, 67, a rich businessman
and the wily, wise-cracking chairman of the
Golkar party, Suharto’s former political vehicle.
Should he win, the Democrats’ performance in
April gives SBY greater authority to hand-pick
his cabinet and make good on promises to
stamp out corruption and maintain economic
Highlights of his first term included a peace
deal with Acehnese separatists which ended
a bitter 30-year conflict, multiple high-profile
arrests of corrupt officials and steady economic
growth despite the global financial crisis.
But he also came under fire from civil
society groups for caving in to calls from hard-
line Islamists for restrictions on the minority
Ahmadiyah sect, and for backing a sweeping
anti-pornography law despite broad opposi-
tion. His choice of respected economist and
former central bank chief Boediono as his run-
ning mate has also left him open to opposition
charges of “neo-liberalism,” a label he rejects.
“We’re certainly not neo-lib. A neo-lib
government doesn’t stress the importance of
the government’s role and good governance,”
Democratic Party economic advisor Darwin
Saleh said. – AFP
Five dead, 34 wounded in
Philippine church bombing
COTABATO: Five people were killed and at least
34 wounded in a suspected Muslim rebel bomb
attack outside a Catholic church in the strife-torn
southern Philippines yesterday, officials said.
A lone suspect left a home-made bomb
outside the Immaculate Conception cathedral
in Cotabato city which exploded just as the
congregation was leaving early morning mass,
officials said.
The church was not heavily damaged but a
restaurant across the street appeared to have
absorbed much of the impact, witnesses said.
Ordnance experts searched for clues among
blood-spattered debris on the road outside the
Police said four people, including two soldiers,
were killed at the scene, while another died of
his injuries in hospital. Many of the wounded
were women and children, according to Froi
Cordero, a priest who helped bring the casual-
ties to hospital. City mayor Muslimin Sema said
the number of wounded had reached 34, as he
ordered stepped-up security to prevent further
“I condemn this incident that attacked in-
nocent civilians,” Sema said.
City police chief Superintendent Willie Dan-
gane said no one had claimed responsibility for
the attack, but confirmed that the suspected
bomber was arrested as he tried to bring an-
other device into the church.
Regional military spokesman Lt-Col Jonathan
Ponce was quick to blame the separatist Moro
Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for the blast.
“The special operations group of the MILF is
behind this,” Ponce said, adding that the MILF had
carried out similar attacks in recent weeks. He
said a bomb also allegedly planted by MILF rebels
exploded in the nearby town of Datu Piang late
on Saturday, wounding three people. – AFP
OAS suspends Honduras
WASHINGTON: The Organisation of American
States (OAS) suspended Honduras on Saturday af-
ter the Central American country ignored an OAS
ultimatum to reinstate ousted President Manuel
Zelaya. The OAS took the rare move to suspend
leaving at least one person dead and three
others injured, Israeli public radio reported.
Gunfire was heard after hundreds of people
from rival Arab families faced off against each
other in the Silwan area, said witnesses quoted
in the radio reports. No immediate motive for
the violence was given. Several ambulances
were dispatched to the scene but the main
Israeli police contingent in the area did not
intervene, the witnesses said. – AFP
a member country at a meeting in Washington
Californian defends hot dog
title with world record
after the interim authorities in Honduras ignored
a Saturday deadline to restore Zelaya to office.
Zelaya, who took power in 2006 and was due
to leave office in 2010, was bundled into exile
by the military last Sunday after a dispute over
presidential term limits. – Reuters
One dead in
Jerusalem clashes
JERUSALEM: Clashes erupted on Saturday in
east Jerusalem between warring Arab clans,
NEW YORK: Japan’s competitive eater Takeru
“Tsunami” Kobayashi, 31, conceded defeat again
on Saturday to the 25-year-old Californian Joey
“Jaws” Chestnut in what’s become their annual
Fourth-of-July eat-off on Coney Island, outside
New York City. Chestnut downed a world-record
68 wieners and rolls in ten minutes, besting
Kobayashi’s 64, who came in second. The third
place eater lagged way behind with only 54. Last
year, Chestnut and Kobayashi went stomach-to-
stomach with a tie of 59 hot dogs. – dpa
way behind with only 54. Last year, Chestnut and Kobayashi went stomach-to- stomach with a tie