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Aceh Candidates Reject Postponement of Polls

BY NURDIN HASAN
Aceh local election in 2006 -- FILE PHOTO
Banda Aceh, TAG –  Some 35 candidates and their running mates who have registered for Aceh’s municipal, district and gubernatorial elections slated for Feb. 16 stood united on Monday in their opposition to calls to delay the polls yet again.
At a special almost three hours meeting, the candidates denounced the move by the Indonesian Home Affairs Ministry to seek a legal challenge to force the Aceh Independent Elections Commission (KIP) to carry out the registration of candidates anew.

“We reject this move to delay the elections because the schedule as laid out by the KIP is in line with the law and has the Constitutional Court’s backing to proceed,” Muhammad M.T.A., a spokesman for the candidates and a contender for Pidie district head, said after the meeting.
“Pushing the elections back to another date won’t guarantee that the security situation by then will be better. Indeed, it could give rise to wider conflicts.”
He was referring to arguments by various groups that a spate of unresolved shootings in the last few weeks, which the House of Representatives has called politically motivated, would only escalate if the polls were carried out with only the candidates who were currently registered.
The Home Affairs Ministry is seeking a delay in order to challenge a decision by the KIP to ban the Aceh Party from fielding candidates.
The ban was imposed after the party, which dominates the provincial legislature and derives its support from former members of the now-disbanded Free Aceh Movement (GAM), refused to register its candidates in light of a Constitutional Court ruling allowing independent candidates to run.
In addition to the gubernatorial election, voters in 13 districts and four cities in the province will also go to the polls to elect district heads and mayors.
The elections were originally expected to take place in October last year, but the political squabbling has seen them postponed several times.
MTA said the registered candidates would fly to Jakarta this week to meet with officials from the Home Affairs Ministry, the General Elections Commission (KPU) and the House of Representatives to make their case for allowing the polls to take place next month.
He said the candidates would also urge President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono not to intervene in the matter, including by issuing a regulation-in-lieu-of-law (Perppu) that would override the KIP and the Constitutional Court and force a postponement.
“If he does issue a Perppu, we will mount a legal challenge against it with the Constitutional Court,” MTA said.
Mawardy Nurdin, a candidate for mayor of Banda Aceh, agreed that issuing a Perppu would be a “blunder” on Yudhoyono’s part. 
Mawardy’s election bid is backed by the president’s Democratic Party and his running mate Illiza Sa’aduddin Djamal from the United Development Party (PPP).  Mawardy is the top leader of Democratic Party for Aceh branch.
“Other parties right now are looking to exploit any weaknesses exhibited by the president, so if he puts out a Perppu, he’ll be leaving himself open to attack,” said Mawardy, who is the current mayor of the provincial capital.
“There should be no outside interference in this matter. The Constitutional Court ruling should suffice for everyone.”
Mawardy added that his party is now trying to lobbying the president no to issue the Perppu.
Separately, the KIP said it would not be swayed in its decision to hold the elections on Feb. 16. It has already scheduled the official campaigning period to run from Jan. 30 to Feb. 12.[]
Aceh Candidates Reject Postponement of Polls Aceh Candidates Reject Postponement of Polls Reviewed by Nurdin Hasan on January 16, 2012 Rating: 5

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