Jakarta: Opposition Wins Vote

A loose group of opposition parties won a majority in Indonesia's first free parliamentary elections in 44 years, election officials said Friday, announcing long-delayed unofficial results more than a month after the vote.

The results showed the opposition trounced the ruling Golkar Party, which has held power through decades of authoritarian rule. The vote count from the June 7 ballot was delayed by wrangling within the election commission and complex electoral procedures.

The final tally will not be available until next week, but the outcome confirmed Megawati Sukarnoputri, the daughter of Indonesia's founding president, as the front-runner in November's presidential election.

Led by Megawati, the Indonesian Democratic Party for Struggle (PDI) won nearly 34 percent of the vote. The Golkar Party placed second with 22 percent, according to the unofficial results.

Two other parties loosely allied with Megawati, the National Awakening Party and the National Mandate Party, won 12 percent and 7 percent of the vote respectively. Their leaders have indicated they are willing to cooperate with PDI, although no formal agreement binds the three parties.

Â"Vote counting has essentially been completed,Â" Barna Sumandri, a member or the National Election Committee (PPI), said Friday. Â"I do not think the officials results will be any different from what PPI has counted.Â"

Golkar chairman Akbar Tanjung conceded defeat Friday and congratulated Megawati's party.

Â"We from the Golkar Party declare that we accept the result of the vote count,Â" Tanjung told reporters.

According to Indonesia's complex electoral regulations, the new head of state will be chosen by an electoral college consisting of deputies in the new 500-member parliament and 200 regional representatives.

Golkar hopes to keep its candidate, President B.J. Habibie, in office by persuading enough smaller parties to support him. Habibie took over after the ouster last year of his political mentor, President Suharto, amid massive public protests.

The final tally initially was scheduled for release two weeks after the ballot, but was then deferred to July 8 and again to July 21.

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