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Aceh Election Delay Awaiting Approval

BY NURDIN HASAN
Banda Aceh, TAG – Polling officials in Aceh on Monday continued to press their case for the Constitutional Court to back their decision to postpone the elections in the northern-most Indonesian province, citing the amount of time it would take to verify new candidates.

Yarwin Adi Dharma, a member of the Aceh Independent Elections Commission (KIP), said that although the KIP had already announced it would move the polls from Feb. 16 to April 9, it still needed the court’s approval.
Early last week, the court ordered the reopening of the registration window for candidates who missed out on the previous period. The ruling also stipulated that the polls be held as scheduled next month, with no delays to accommodate the one-week window for new registrations.
Yarwin pointed out that already there had been 22 new candidates registering their bids, with another two expected to sign up on Tuesday.
“We’ve been trying our best to verify them within the seven days given to us under the ruling, but the truth is that we’re facing great difficulty,” he said. “The biggest challenge is having to verify the independent candidates.”
The KIP requires governor candidates running as independents to present a petition with the signatures of 148,000 registered voters in order to be eligible to compete. Those petitions are subject to confirmation during the verification process, which Yarwin said would naturally be a time-consuming process.
He added that besides the cross-checking, the KIP still needed to administer health and Quran reading tests for all the new candidates.
“How can we possibly do it in just seven days as the court ruled?” he said.
Days after the ruling last week, the KIP announced it had no choice but to postpone the elections, which will see voters across the province choose a governor, 13 district heads and four mayors.
The KIP is now asking the court to legitimize the latest delay because the new balloting date would come two months after the term of Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf comes to an end that dated February 8.
This is the latest delay yet of the polls, which had initially been scheduled to take place last November but got derailed when the Aceh Party threatened a boycott in response to a Constitutional Court ruling allowing independent candidates to run.
At the time, the KIP went on to register candidates anyway, regardless of the boycott by the party, which dominates the provincial legislature and derives its support from former members of the now-disbanded militant Free Aceh Movement (GAM).[]
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