Indonesian farmers vow to boycott election

Thousands of Indonesian farmers and other activists have vowed to boycott the country's presidential election unless poor farmers are given ownership of the land which they work.

    Nearly half of Indonesians live in a rural areas

    The estimated 10,000 protesters marched through Jakarta's main

    business district and on to parliament on Tuesday in one of the largest

    demonstrations seen in the capital in recent months.

    "Land for those who work it," read one of their signs. "Stop

    violence against farmers," said another.

    "An increasing number of farmers feel oppressed by policies

    which cause losses for them. A real example is that many farmers

    still don't own their land even though they have been working hard

    for years," said a statement by the protesters.

    Rural masses

    They also called for an end to "New Order militarism", a

    reference to the repressive regime of former president Suharto, who

    stepped down in 1998.

    Siswono Yudhohusodo, who heads the country's farmers'

    association, is running in the 5 July presidential election as

    vice-presidential candidate for Amien Rais, chairman of the national

    assembly.

    Among the other challengers to President Megawati Sukarnoputri

    are two retired generals, Wiranto and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

    Yudhoyono holds a wide lead in public opinion polls.

    More than half of Indonesia's population of 212 million are

    farmers and their families.

    SOURCE: AFP


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