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INDONESIA POLLS: Indonesia prepares for polling

Publication Date : 08-04-2014


With the legislative election only one day away, Indonesia's security forces have been readied to safeguard the election across the archipelago, with special attention being paid to conflict-prone areas, including Aceh and Papua.

In a joint press briefing at his office in Central Jakarta on Monday, Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto emphasized that although the election might not run smoothly everywhere on Wednesday, the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the National Police would work hand-in-hand to ensure this year’s election was a peaceful one.

As a standard procedure, Djoko called on members of the political parties contesting the election, as well as their supporters, to comply with all regulations in order to avoid violence.

“There will be people who will be disappointed with the result of the legislative election on April 9. Thus, I call on all election participants and their supporters to avoid violent acts in expressing their disappointment. Remember, we have the Constitutional Court and Bawaslu [Elections Monitoring Agency] to accommodate your concerns,” Djoko said.

“Violent protests can be avoided if all of us comply with the law. We must remember that this is a state based on the law. The TNI and the police already know what to do [to deal with acts of violence],” he said.

The world’s third-largest democracy after India and the United States will hold a legislative election that will see 185.8 million voters eligible to cast their ballots to elect 560 legislators to the House of Representatives and more than 18,000 local councillors.

National Police chief Gen. Sutarman said the police were ready to maintain security at around 546,000 polling stations across Indonesia on election day, and would dispatch extra police personnel to conflict-prone areas such as Aceh, Papua and East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) in addition to those currently stationed in those locations.

“We have dispatched 341 Mobile Brigade officers to Aceh, 100 officers to NTT and 200 others to Papua,” Sutarman said.

According to Sutarman, the National Police will deploy 253,035 personnel in total — 4,511 personnel from the National Police headquarters and 248,524 personnel from regional police forces — to maintain security during the election process.

The police have also secured the assistance of other agencies: 23,450 personnel from the TNI and 1,091,556 community protection officers. In total, there will be 1,368,041 personnel from all three groups on duty to ensure a smooth election.

Regional police forces, however, are allowed to request more personnel for extra support. The National Police have provided 933 extra officers for the Jakarta Police; 100 officers from the National Police Academy for the Central Java Police; and 20 officers from the National Police’s Staff and Command School for the West Java Police.

Separately, Jakarta Police spokesman Rikwanto said the police would deploy around 12,000 personnel to guard the voting process at around 41,000 polling booths in the city on Wednesday.

“Of 41,000 polling booths, 300 are prone to disturbance,” said Rikwanto.

As of Monday, a peaceful situation was reported from across the country as a result of the campaign cooling-off period, which will last until today, the day before polling. However, Bawaslu still recorded a number of violations of the cooling-off period, when election participants nationwide are supposed not to conduct any campaign-related activities.

Head of the Bawaslu branch office in South Lampung, Pauji, said his office was investigating the distribution of a ton of sugar to locals, which according to him might relate to vote buying.

In other parts of the country, Bawaslu offices were still struggling to pull down campaign banners.

In anticipation of election fraud, political parties, including the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), have launched an election-monitoring facility to pool election-related data provided by party supporters and election witnesses from all over the country in order to pre-empt any attempts at vote manipulation.


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