SIMULTANEOUS REGIONAL ELECTIONS IN 264 REGIONS RAN SMOOTHLY by Fardah
Jakarta, Dec 9, 2015 (Antara) - Millions of eligible voters visited polling stations to cast their ballot in Indonesia's first-ever simultaneous regional head elections (pilkada) held in 264 regions in 32 provinces, out of the country's 34 provinces, on December 9, 2015.
In general, the local elections ran smoothly with some regions registering a very high voter turnout which in a few others, it was quite low. "We estimate that the turnout was between 60 and 70 percent," Nasrullah, commissioner of the General Elections Supervision Agency (Bawaslu), said after monitoring the way pilkada was implemented in South Tangerang, Banten Province. In two of the polling stations he visited in South Tangerang, the voter turnout was around 85 percent and 50 percent, respectively. He also expressed relief at the elections passing off quite smoothly in general in many regions. National Police Chief General Badrodin, in an interview with a private television station in the afternoon, said the local elections overall went off peacefully across the country. More than 140 thousand police officers and 35,079 military officers were deployed to ensure security during the local elections. Initially, the pilkada was to be organized in 269 regions, or 53 percent of the country's total regions, but the KPU announced on December 8that elections in five regions would be postponed. The five regions are Central Kalimantan Province, Fakfak District in Papua, Pematang Siantar municipality in North Sumatra, Simalungun District in North Sumatra, and Manado city in North Sulawesi, according to KPU Commissioner Hadar Nafis Gumay. Of the total participating regions, three had only a single candidate each: Blitar in East Java, Tasikmalaya in West Java, and North Timor Tengah in East Nusa Tenggara. In this cases, voters were asked whether the sole candidate pair was acceptable to them or not. More than 800 pairs of regional head candidates are contesting for the posts of eight governors and vice governors, 222 district heads and their deputies, and 34 mayors and their deputies. According to data recently provided by the KPU, some 100,461,890 Indonesians, 50,297,463 men and 50,164,427 women, were eligible as voters in the 2015 pilkada. Besides this, 268,652 people, including 135,523 men and 133,129 women, were there in the Additional Final Voters List (DPTb-1). "There will be 2,031,465 first-time voters, comprising 1,020,511 men and 1,010,954 women. A total of 128,391 voters were those having disabilities," KPU Chairman Husni Kamil Manik remarked recently. On the polling day, Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo and 112 foreign observers witnessed the implementation of the local elections (pilkada) in South Tangerang. According to Head of the South Tangerang General Election Commission (KPU) Mohamad Subhan, the city was designated as a model region for pilkada. Three pairs of candidates, including the incumbent mayor, are contesting in the mayoral elections in South Tangerang. The foreign observers are from Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Philippines, and Australia, in addition to 25 ambassadors from friendly countries. They came at the invitation of the Indonesian government on a reciprocal basis. "Indonesia is also frequently invited to observe elections in other countries," he noted. Banten Governor Rano Karno accompanied the delegation of foreign observers. The foreign observers stayed in the city's polling stations until the ballot counting process was completed. They visited some polling stations, including five in Rawa Buntu area, Serpong sub-district, to observe the voting process. "Based on our observation, the voting process went off smoothly at some polling stations in South Tangerang. All the personnel and related institutions in charge of implementing the election carried out their tasks well. The military and police personnel were able to ensure security throughout the process in an optimal fashion," Karno noted. The simultaneous pilkada were held in four regions of Banten Province: South Tangerang municipality, Cilegon municipality, Pandeglang District and Serang District. The Banten authorities have deployed several teams to monitor the implementation of the pilkada. Karno hoped that the voter turnout in his province would reach more than 50 percent. The governor expressed pride that foreign observers were monitoring the voting process in his province. "They want to observe the implementation of democracy in Indonesia, and one of them is in South Tangerang. I am accompanying them, and, for sure, I am proud," he affirmed. In Jakarta, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) is monitoring the situation closely. "Until now, the president has been constantly monitoring and receiving reports from the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, the Home Affairs Minister, and the National Police Chief," Ari Dwipayana of the presidential communication team noted in a statement. Earlier, President Jokowi had remarked that the first-ever simultaneous pilkada 2015 is a new experience for the Indonesian people. Therefore, the head of state urged the Indonesian people in 264 regions going to polls to actively participate in the elections. "Do not forget to visit the polling stations. Do not forget to select Indonesian leaders who will be chosen by you, the people themselves," Jokowi affirmed on Monday. The president instructed the home affairs minister and the national police chief to ensure that the pilkada was organized peacefully. "I urge everyone to maintain order and remain calm," he emphasized. The winners should not show arrogance, and the losers must not become disappointed or be upset, he remarked. "If there is any disagreement regarding the elections' results, I hope it would be handled peacefully, democratically, and maturely, in line with the existing regulations," Jokowi stated. ***2*** (f001/INE) 09-12-2015 21:05:16