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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Indonesian Opposition's Suit Delayed

JAKARTA -- An Indonesian judge with a toothache forced the postponement Thursday of the hearing of a lawsuit brought against the government by Megawati Sukarnoputri over her claims she was illegally ousted as head of an opposition party.


Riot police and troops guarded the Jakarta Central District Court but hundreds of Megawati supporters dispersed peacefully on police orders after the postponement was announced.


The court case had kept Jakarta on edge for fear of fresh disturbances after riots rocked the city last weekend.


A judge told the packed courtroom the case had been postponed to Aug. 22 because chief judge I Gde Ketut Suarta had a toothache. He was to have headed the three-judge panel hearing the case.


Some of the spectators in the court jeered the announcement that Suarta's dentist had given him a sick note to take three days off from his duties.


Megawati, the daughter of Indonesia's late founding president Sukarno, filed the lawsuit against the government and the military for backing rebels who ousted her from the leadership of the Indonesian Democratic Party, or PDI, in June.


Security around the court, in one of the most crowded shopping areas of the city, was extremely tight in the aftermath of the capital's worst riots in two decades Saturday in which at least four people died.


Several hundred riot police and troops were positioned in streets around the court, and snipers with binoculars were posted on high buildings in the area. The army has said it will open fire to quell fresh disturbances.


Within an hour of the announcement that the hearing would be postponed, traffic through the area was flowing normally and shops reopened.


The riots Saturday erupted after a police takeover of the PDI headquarters in Jakarta from Megawati supporters, who had refused to hand over the building to the rival faction.


On Thursday, police briefly closed the road outside the court after hundreds of people surged out shouting "Long Live Mega" and "Megawati Will Win."


Witnesses said police detained one person but could not say why.


But they said police and troops were careful not to provoke the crowd. One colonel was heard telling troops on a megaphone: "These are our brothers. Disperse them in an orderly way."


Newspapers quoted police as saying they planned to question several PDI leaders, including Megawati, in connection with the riots, which authorities have blamed on a left-wing activist group.