Megawati in Presidential Comeback Bid

JAKARTA ~ Former president Megawati Sukarnoputri has announced a reelection bid for 2009, a senior party executive said.

The 60-year-old Megawati, daughter of Indonesia’s founding president Sukarno and leader of its second largest party, has maintained a relatively low profile since losing 2004 polls to Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

But on Monday the famously taciturn politician suddenly announced she was willing to be nominated as her party’s presidential candidate, the party’s parliamentary vice chairman Soetardjo Soerjoguritno said.

“She made the announcement in front of all PDI-P (Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle) cadres, that she was willing to be nominated by the party as its candidate for the 2009 elections. That is now official,” he said.

As Megawati is the party leader, no other candidates would be expected to stand against her.

Soerjoguritno said Megawati called on party members to spread the word that she would be running, so “we can now all work to prepare for the next elections.”

Under Indonesian law, presidential candidates can only be nominated by a party represented in parliament. Megawati is the first candidate to announce intentions for 2009.

Megawati rose from vice president to lead the world’s fourth-largest nation when then-president Abdurrahman Wahid was dismissed for alleged incompetence and corruption in July 2001.

She endured a humiliating defeat to current President Yudhoyono in 2004, when she ran with the chairman of the country’s largest Muslim movement, Hasyim Muzadi, as her vice presidential candidate.

Her popularity mainly hinges on being the daughter of the charismatic Sukarno, who proclaimed the country’s independence in 1945.

But her government was deemed by many as having lacked the determination to bring about promised reforms, including in the country’s battle against entrenched corruption.

Megawati took charge of the Indonesian Democracy Party in 1993, when the country was under president Suharto. Suharto made a clumsy attempt at ousting her in 1996, leading to the formation of her current party.

The party went on to win the country’s first post-Suharto elections in 1999, relegating the Golkar party, which had reigned supreme during the three decades under Suharto, to second place.

But in the 2004 elections, Golkar knocked Megawati’s party back off the top spot, leaving it with 109 out of 550 seats in parliament compared to Golkar’s 128.

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