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Landmark election campaign begins in Aceh BANDA ACEH - The candidates for the leaders of Aceh province in Indonesia began a two-week-long official campaign on Friday to compete over the positions of governor and mayors, the provincial electoral commission said. "The campaign starts today, from Nov. 24 to Dec. 7," M. Jafar, chairman of the commission, told Xinhua in a telephone interview.

"The campaign is initiated with the presentation of the vision and mission of the candidates and on Nov. 25 there will be debates among them," he added. The Dec. 11 poll will elect a governor, 15 regents and four mayors across the province in the tip of Indonesia's Sumatra island, some 1,600 km northwest of Jakarta, Jafar said. The campaign period will see eight candidates running for the province's top job. Around 2.6 million Acehnese are eligible to vote in the elections.

Military men and member of the Separatist Free Aceh Movement known as "GAM" are among those compete for posts leading the oil- and-gas rich province, which is recovering from the 2004 tsunami, said Jafar. Djali Yusuf, a former general who led Indonesian troops in the province and Irwandi Yusuf, a GAM's representative in the Aceh Monitoring Mission (AMM) that currently monitors peace in Aceh and another GAM member Hasbi Abdullah, are among the eight independent candidates in the race for governor, said the chairman.

The other five candidates are nominated by national parties. Similarly, dozens of candidates for other positions are also from military and rebel, said Jafar. The Independent Elections Committee requested contesting candidates to conduct their campaign peacefully. "The candidates should be able to control their campaign team and supporters to maintain peace," said Zainuddin, the committee's working group member on communication.

The Indonesian parliament endorsed a land mark law for Aceh province in July, paving the way for the provincial election and giving the province greater autonomy and control over much of its oil and natural gas, which is in line with the peace accord between the government and the rebel on Aug. 15 in Helsinki, Finland. The accord was to halt the three-decade bloody conflict that had claimed over 15,000 of lives, most of them civilians. The peace accord was spurred by the tsunami that has claimed over 150,000 lives and devastated most of coastal areas of the province.

More than 100 foreign observers have already monitored and registered to involve in supervising the implementation of the peace deal. Even dozens of foreign observers from European Union has worked since the beginning of this month," Jafar said. Japan, Canada and the United States also sent their observers to Aceh's regional election, Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda said. Indonesia hailed the presence of foreign observers to monitor the first-direct poll, saying that their presence was important to jointly ensure that the election is conducted democratically and transparently, said Wirajuda.


Related blog entries (category 'Elections') Related blog entries (category 'Elections'):
08 November 2006 · Minister to inspect preparations for Aceh regional chief elections
06 November 2006 · General, rebel among candidates in Aceh
22 August 2006 · Indonesia to hold Aceh elections December 11


Posted in Elections @ 25 November 2006 14:35 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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