The armed forces say they will not tolerate political violence in the run-up to elections on May 29. The warning came after political riots rocked the island of Java only three weeks before the campaign begins. 'We won't bargain when it comes to safeguarding the elections,' said Lieutenant-General Syarwan Hamid, the head of the military's socio-political affairs department. 'Whoever tries to create unrest to disturb the polls will have to deal with the armed forces,' he said yesterday. Supporters of the ruling Golkar party and the Muslim-backed United Development Party (PPP) are vying for territory in Java, which Golkar lost at the last polls. Java is the political heartland and has the largest population in Indonesia. General Hamid said the Indonesian armed forces were not sure when to intervene in clashes. 'If we move to handle a situation too quickly, we are accused of interfering. 'If we play by the rules or follow events, then we just lose out,' General Hamid said. Last Sunday, hundreds of people returning from a Muslim prayer session rioted in the PPP's Central Java stronghold of Pekalongan, tearing down the yellow flags of Golkar. When security personnel tried to intervene, locals threw barricades across the street and fought back. 'The changing political alliances at the elite level is causing frustration among PPP members. 'And they are venting those frustrations at the armed forces', who are perceived to be supporting Golkar, said Juwono Sudarsono, vice-governor of the National Resilience Institute. Military analysts say the armed forces will have to tread a fine line in the election campaign when handling local disputes. 'The armed forces will try to calibrate the local situation and attempt to create enough presence without provoking resentment on behalf of the opposition parties,' said Mr Sudarsono. Although members of the armed forces are not allowed to vote, their families are free to support any party. Golkar has nominated the wives of General Hamid and armed forces chief General Feisal Tanjung as candidates. The three political parties - Golkar, PPP and the Indonesian Democracy Party - will compete for 425 seats in the elections. President Suharto appoints 75 military members to the Lower House.