Court Orders Aceh Poll To Accept New Candidates

Jakarta, TAG – The Constitutional Court has weighed in on the dispute over the upcoming Aceh elections with a ruling that unregistered candidates should be given the chance to sign up, but few were satisfied with the decision.
The ruling also stipulates that the polls be held as scheduled on Feb. 16, with no delays to accommodate the one-week window in which new candidates now have to register their bids.

“We’ve decided to order the registration window to be reopened for seven days, effective as of today,” Mahfud M.D., the court’s chief justice, said on Tuesday.
“Everyone will get the same chance [to run] and the elections will proceed on February 16.”

The prospects for the polls taking place next month, when voters in the country’s westernmost province will choose a governor, 13 district heads and four mayors, appeared shaky following political bickering over the issue of candidates.

The Home Affairs Ministry had been seeking a legal challenge to force the Aceh Independent Elections Commission (KIP) to carry out the registration of candidates anew, in response to 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 geurillas Free Aceh Movement (GAM), refused to register its candidates in light of an earlier Constitutional Court ruling allowing independent candidates to run.
With Tuesday’s ruling, those candidates who have already registered will not have to repeat the process, while those who missed out can sign up with the KIP. The new registration period will end before the official campaigning period begins on Jan. 30.
In Aceh, however, poll officials said they feared a delay was inevitable because of the amount of time it would take to verify each new candidate’s bid.
Yarwin Adi Dharma, a KIP commissioner, said the polls could be pushed back to April, adding that the seven-day window provided by the Constitutional Court was not sufficient time in which to give the new candidates health checks and test them on their Koran-reading ability, on which the previous candidates were also evaluated.
“If we get new candidates running as independents, there’s no way the KIP will be able to carry out the verification process in just a week,” he said, adding that 60 days was more realistic.
“The way we see it, this new ruling necessitates postponing the elections again.”
The elections were initially scheduled for Nov. 14 last year but were repeatedly pushed back because of the bickering over independent candidates.
The ruling was also met with skepticism by the Aceh Party, which said it would not use the seven-day window to register its candidates.
Party spokesman Fachrul Razi said the rejection was based on its initial and overriding objection to the KIP allowing independent candidates to run.
“We might eventually register, but that depends on the outcome of a summit that we’ll hold later this week,” he said.
Meanwhile, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono spoke about the spate of unresolved shootings and firebombings in Aceh.
He called on all parties and the security forces keep the “hard-won peace” achieved in the province following almost three decades of conflict that claimed at least 15,000 lives.[]

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Court Orders Aceh Poll To Accept New Candidates Court Orders Aceh Poll To Accept New Candidates Reviewed by Nurdin Hasan on January 17, 2012 Rating: 5

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