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Elections Pushed Back As Aceh Party Registers Candidates

BY NURDIN HASAN
Banda Aceh. Polling officials in Aceh announced on Thursday that they had no choice but to push back the long-awaited local elections in the Indonesia's northern most province from Feb. 16 to April 9.

Robby Syahputra, a member of the Aceh Independent Elections Commission (KIP), said the move came in response to a ruling earlier this week by the Constitutional Court ordering the reopening of the registration window for candidates who missed out on the previous registration period.
The ruling also stipulated that the polls be held as scheduled on Feb. 16, with no delays to accommodate the one-week window for new registrations.
“However, we’ve discussed it and there’s no way the KIP can verify all the new candidates in time to hold the polls as initially scheduled,” Robby said.
“We will abide by the ruling [to accept new registrations], but the election date will have to be moved.”
The KIP had previously said it would need up to 60 days to carry out the verification process for the polls, which will see voters across the province choose a governor, 13 district heads and four mayors.
The KIP’s decision to move the election to April 9 came as the Aceh Party announced it would register its candidates for upcoming local elections, ending its months-long standoff with the polling agency.
Fachrul Razi, a party spokesman, said all the candidates would register Friday for the elections.
“We will register because the Aceh Party wants to participate in the elections and wants to be part of the democratic process in the province,” Fachrul said.
“We are also optimistic that we will win the gubernatorial election and the various other regional posts. We’re targeting a clean sweep of all the polls.”
The elections 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.
The KIP went on to register candidates anyway, regardless of the boycott by the local party, which dominates the provincial legislature and derives its support from former members of the now-disbanded guerillas Free Aceh Movement (GAM).
Fachrul said the party would register Zaini Abdullah, the former GAM foreign minister in exile, as its gubernatorial candidate. His running mate is Muzakkir Manaf, the former GAM’s top commander.
Zaini will join the race alongside Irwandi Yusuf, the incumbent and a fellow former GAM official, as well as Deputy Governor Muhammad Nazar, Ahmad Tajuddin, a local leader of traditional of Islamic Boarding School and Darni M. Daud, the Rector of Syiah Kuala University.
Only Nazar and Zaini will be backed by political parties, with the three others running as independent candidates. Nazar backed by the coalition of Democratic Party and United Development Party (PPP).
However, some other national-based parties such as Golkar Party, Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and National Mandate Party (PAN) not decide to register their candidates yet.
Irwandi’s attempt to run as an independent candidate was at the heart of the dispute surrounding the polls, with the Aceh Party arguing that under the terms of the 2005 peace deal that ended almost three decades of bitter conflict in the province, independent gubernatorial candidates were only allowed in the 2006 elections.
The lead-up to the polls has also been marred by a spate of unresolved shootings and fire-bombings that the Indonesian House of Representatives has warned are politically motivated and should not be treated as normal crimes.[]
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Elections Pushed Back As Aceh Party Registers Candidates Elections Pushed Back As Aceh Party Registers Candidates Reviewed by Nurdin Hasan on January 19, 2012 Rating: 5

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