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Huge problems await next president JAKARTA - Over 100 million people are expected to flock to hundreds of thousands of polling stations on Monday to cast their votes in the final round of the country's first-ever direct presidential election. While recognizing Monday's election as a significant milestone in the country's democratization process, experts nevertheless warned on Sunday against putting too much hope in the next president.
Political analyst from the Centre of Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) J. Kristiadi said that the two candidates once worked together and failed to find solutions to the problems the country was facing. "The problems faced by the country are very difficult to solve and both Megawati and Susilo once worked in the same team attempting to solve these problems, but they failed," Kristiadi told a seminar in Semarang on Sunday.
Incumbent Megawati Soekarnoputri and four-star retired Army general Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono are contesting Monday's election runoff. Susilo was Megawati's coordinating minister for political and security affairs before he resigned in March to stand in the presidential election. "People have to work themselves to bring about changes in the legal, political, economic and other sectors, and I am not being pessimistic if I say this. Instead, I'm talking about the facts," Kristiadi said.
Meanwhile, Center for Electoral Reform (Cetro) executive director Smita Notosusanto said Monday's poll was a critical point in the country's political life, but further reform would depend on cooperation between the government, the legislature and the constitutional court. "Of course, Monday's election will lend legitimacy to the newly elected leader as the people will have directly voted for him or her. Even if the people pick the wrong candidate, the process has given a lesson on democracy to the country -- a lesson we have learned through experience," Smita told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.
A total of 153,312,436 eligible voters are expected to cast their votes at over 567,000 polling stations in 32 provinces on Monday. The poll, whose results will be announced on Oct. 5, will not only decide the fate of Megawati and Susilo, but also serve as a litmus test on whether or not democracy has fully taken root in the world's largest Muslim country. Over 189,000 police and 37,000 military personnel, as well as 1.2 million civilian security auxiliaries, have been deployed to ensure security during the election, held less than two weeks after a powerful bomb blast killed at least ten people in Kuningan, South Jakarta.
The Susilo-Kalla ticket, which has topped virtually all the pre-election opinion surveys, has promised to bring about change in the country, which has been plagued by a slow recovery from the economic crisis of 1997. The ticket, however, has been very short on concrete programs for change, leaving the voters mostly in the dark as to what they intend to do. Megawati and her running mate Hasyim Muzadi, on the other hand, has promised to complete the unfinished programs of the present government.
Many analysts have pointed their fingers at Megawati for failing to resolve bloody religious conflicts in Poso, Central Sulawesi and Ambon, and secessionist problems in Aceh and Papua provinces. She has also been accused of dragging her feet in fighting against corruption. "There is only one parameter to determine whether or not the election has brought about changes in Indonesia, and that is whether or not the three institutions can carry out their duties in line with their respective roles," said Smita.
"The checks-and-balances principle should be implemented in the relationship between the legislature and the government. The Constitutional Court itself has been granted the power to impeach the president should he or she fail to uphold the state guidelines. So, let's just see whether this process will run smoothly," she said.



Posted in Elections @ 20 September 2004 00:04 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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