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Monday, June 28, 1999 Published at 16:30 GMT 17:30 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Indonesia's election officials blame strikes

Voting three weeks ago proved easier than the counting

Election officials in Indonesia say strikes by local officials are partly to blame for the long delay in counting votes in the country's first free elections in more than three decades.

Indonesia Flashpoints
The Deputy Chairman of the election commission, Adnan Buyung, said some election officials were refusing to work because they had not been paid.

He acknowledged the commission was having trouble transferring money to remote areas.

Nearly a third of the country's electoral districts have still not submitted any results some three weeks after the election.

[ image: Ballot boxes are waiting to be emptied and counted]
Ballot boxes are waiting to be emptied and counted
With about 35% of the vote, the opposition Democratic Party of Struggle of Megawati Sukarnoputri has a strong lead over its nearest rival, the ruling Golkar party.

Golkar is expected to pull back some support as final results arrive from the furthest rural areas of the archipelago, where its support-base is believed to be strongest.

The final result was expected two weeks after the election but it was then pushed back to 8 July. Some opposition politicians are pessimistic it will even be completed by then.

Megawati's presidency bid is also facing obstacles.

Four party leaders agreed on Saturday that many Islamic groups are opposed to a woman becoming president in the world's largest Muslim nation.

Euphoria dying

PDI-P 34.6%
Golkar 21.8%
PKB 12.3%
PPP 10.6%
PAN 7.6%
PBB 2.0%
% votes counted 75.2%
The vote counting is also being overshadowed by charges of irregularities with the euphoria of polling day being overtaken by protests of abuses and fraud in the complex counting process.

For many of the 117 million voters, it was their first free poll after years of rigged elections during the reign of former President Suharto.

Correspondents say that inexperienced election officials have been overwhelmed by complaints of electoral fraud, which means that votes have had to be checked and rechecked.

A total of 48 parties stood in the poll.

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