Indonesians headed today to the voting booths throughout the vast archipelago for the country’s first parliamentary elections in decades. Over 100 million voters are estimated to have voted, and it may take days for the votes to be tallied. Many of the media reports characterized the elections as free and democratic, and as offering Indonesians a chance to finally break free of the oppressive legacy of Indonesia’s former dictator Suharto, who ruled the country with an iron fist for 32 years.
But to some election observers, the voting today is symbolic, and power will still remain in the hands of the country’s elite and military leaders.
- Allan Nairn, journalist and human rights activist. He is in Jakarta writing a series of articles for The Nation. After they survived and reported on the 1991 massacre in East Timor by the Indonesian military, he and Amy Goodman were declared a “threat to national security” by the Indonesian government, and banned from the country. Speaking from Jakarta.