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Poll commission seeks new legal basis for election delay JAKARTA - The General Elections Commission (KPU) says it would need a presidential decree or government regulation in lieu of law to postpone a poll in a particular area if the necessary election materials were not delivered. KPU deputy chairman Ramlan Surbakti said there was no article in the Election Law (Law No. 12/2003) that could justify an election delay because of logistical problems. "This new legal basis would be additional as the law does not provide for any delay due to logistical problems," Ramlan said before a plenary KPU meeting.
A government regulation in lieu of law is usually only issued in emergencies. Article 119 of the Election Law says a vote may be delayed in case of riot, security disturbances or natural disasters that disrupt parts of or the whole election process. The law also stipulates that a delay in the holding of the national poll shall be decided upon by the President at the request of the KPU. But if the election is to be delayed in one or more provinces, the decision can made by the KPU based on a proposal from provincial elections commissions. A delay in the elections in a regency/municipality, or a number of these jurisdictions, can be decided upon by the provincial elections commission at the request of regental/municipal KPUs.
However, Ramlan said the KPU would do its utmost to ensure the elections would take place simultaneously across the country on April 5 as scheduled. Fellow KPU member Valina Singka Subekti concurred, saying the commission had so far not found any convincing reasons to delay the polls in particular areas. She said 22 of the country's 32 provinces had received all the ballot papers needed for the elections to the House of Representatives (DPR), Regional Representative Council (DPD), provincial legislatures (DPRD I) and regental/municipal legislatures (DPRD II).
The Election Law says polling materials must reach all polling stations across the country 10 days before polling day, or Friday March 26 in the case of this year's election. "We will meet again tomorrow (Friday) to decide whether we will consult the President and the House regarding the matter. But we will make every possible effort to hold the elections simultaneously on April 5," Valina said after a plenary meeting.
Ramlan said several areas in 12 provinces were facing difficulties in obtaining polling materials. The areas in question were the Mentawai islands in West Sumatra, the Natuna and Lingga islands in Riau, Kapuas Hulu regency in West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, Malino in East Kalimantan, the Sangihe Talaud islands in North Sulawesi, Central Sulawesi, Southeast Sulawesi, West Southeast Maluku, North Maluku, Kaimana and Bintuni in West Irian Jaya and Puncak Jaya in Papua.
"The question now is how to deliver the materials from the regencies to the districts and villages as a number of areas have transportation difficulties," he said. The Indonesian Military has deployed aircraft to help the KPU distribute polling materials in remote areas. The President has also issued a decree to allow for the use of emergency funds to assist the KPU. Separately, constitutional law expert Sri Sumantri said both the government and the KPU could not postpone the legislative elections without the approval of the Supreme Court or the Constitutional Court.
"The Election Law allows for an election postponement in case of social unrest, natural disasters or other security disturbances. Is the failure to provide ballot papers and ballot boxes considered as being social unrest or a natural disaster?" he asked. Sumantri suggested that the government seek a ruling from the Supreme Court as a legal foundation for any postponements. As a last resort, he said, the President could issue a government regulation in lieu of law to replace the existing Election Law. The approval of the Constitutional Court would also be necessary. "Otherwise, it would not be constitutional. We must abide by the law, and never violate it," he told The Jakarta Post.



Posted in Elections @ 26 March 2004 00:03 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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