Accessibility links

Indonesia: Suharto's Daughter to Run for President - 2003-12-03

In Indonesia, one of the daughters of former President Suharto is set to make a bid for her father's old job. Some people are outraged, but she might be able to cash in on nostalgia for the certainties of her father's iron-fisted rule.

Siti Hardiyanti Rukmana has been nominated to run for president by the Duty and Concern for the National Party - a group her father, former President Suharto, set up shortly after he was ousted from office.

If the wealthy Ms. Rukmana decides to run next year, she will be a controversial candidate. Her father was forced to resign in 1998 in part because of the blatant corruption of members of his family.

An investigation into the business dealings of Ms. Rukmana, who is better known as Tutut, was controversially dropped earlier this year.

Her brother Tomi Suharto was the only one of the Suharto children to be formally charged with corruption. He was convicted, then arranged the murder the judge who found him guilty. He is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence for the murder.

Next September's elections will be the first time that Indonesians get a chance to vote directly for their president. An interesting selection of candidates has come forward for consideration.

Apart from the incumbent, President Megawati Sukarnoputri, who is fighting allegations of corruption within her party, the candidates include a convicted felon, a former general who has been indicted on human rights abuses and another former general who was dismissed from the army after 14 protesters disappeared while in the custody of his troops.

Although Ms. Rukmana is unlikely to be a front-runner in the elections, there is a growing wave of nostalgia for the certainties of life under her authoritarian father. Indonesians have already shown they are not against dynastic succession: President Megawati is herself the daughter of the country's founding father, President Sukarno.