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President Opens Bali Art Festival

Controversy Overshadows Opening Ceremonies as Local Parliamentarian Boycott Event.

Bali News:
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President Megawati Soekarnoputri presided over the opening ceremonies of the 24th Bali Arts Festival on Monday, June 24, 2002, held during a gala opening parade involving cultural performing groups from across the island of Bali, Java, Papua, Japan and Korea.

Delays in the President's arrival caused the parade's start to be delayed from its originally scheduled time of 12.00 noon to 4.45 p.m.. As a result, many visitors left the site of the opening parade, unwilling to wait until after sunset when the parade eventually finished.

The President's remarks during the opening ceremony urging reconciliation among Indonesia's many ethnic groups and the fostering of a tourism industry that serves national culture, stood in ironic contrast to many grandstands seats left vacant by provincial government officials who boycotted the event as a protest at being seated on secondary grandstands instead of at main platform together with the President.

The organizing committee for the Bali Arts Festival defended their decision to build three VIP reviewing stands as a tactic to ensure that the parade participants presented their short cultural performances along the entire length of the parade route and not, as in year's past, only in front of the Presidential reviewing stand.

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