Wednesday, May 19, 1999 Published at 16:17 GMT 17:17 UK
Campaign kicks off in Indonesian election
The red of Megawati's supporters dominated the day's rally
Campaigning for next month's Indonesian elections has officially begun with a colourful and largely peaceful rally in central Jakarta.
But it was red flags and the black bull symbol of the opposition Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-Struggle), led by Megawati Sukarnoputri, which dominated the day.
The government has vowed that the elections will be the freest in more than 40 years.
Large numbers of soldiers and police were deployed on the streets of the capital and across the archipelago as Wednesday's rally and subsequent parade got under way.
But in spite of initial fears no serious trouble was reported.
Stones and plastic bottles were thrown at Golkar supporters.
The BBC South-East Asia Correspondent, Simon Ingram, says the anger directed at the Golkar presence was a sign of how little success it has had in shedding its association with the corruption of the former Suharto regime.
Thousands of foreigners and ethnic Chinese have already left the country fearing a repeat of last May's violence in which 1,200 are thought to have died.
In a taped television speech, President BJ Habibie appealed for peace and tolerance of different political views.
"What we need most in this election campaign is a high level of tolerance," he said. "We must use the freedom that we have wisely."
Golkar, which in previous elections averaged around 70% of the vote, is now expected to gain little more than 20%.
Megawati's PDI-Struggle is expected to win the largest share of the vote.
Earlier this week Golkar deputy chairman, Marzuki Darusman, said he expected the party's performance in the forthcoming general election to be damaged by the recent formation of a new opposition coalition.
The new opposition alliance brings Megawati's PDI-Struggle together with the two other main opposition parties, the National Mandate Party of Amien Rais and the National Awakening party.
They have vowed to fight attempts by the old political elite to block moves towards democratic reform.
The three parties say they will not choose a candidate for November's presidential vote until after the results of June's parliamentary elections are known.
But analysts say that Megawati, the daughter of Indonesia's charismatic founding president who has a long association with opposition to the Suharto regime, is likely to be the main beneficiary of the deal.