Sat, 12 Mar 2005

Spirits high in Makassar ahead of direct election

Andi Hajramurni, The Jakarta Post/Makassar

The direct elections of regional government heads are scheduled for June this year. And, in some places in the country, residents are gearing up for the main event by voting for their community leaders.

In Makassar, South Sulawesi, a community unit (RW) recently held a direction election for its head. The election system was based on that of last year's presidential election.

A polling station was set up at the official residence of the Mariso district head. The election was attended by 302 residents of Community Unit 3 in Kampung Buyang subdistrict in Mariso.

Chairs were arranged in a tent for the residents to sit on before their names were called out by the election committee. After receiving a ballot paper from a committee member, the residents entered the polling booth one at a time and were asked to dip their finger in ink to make a fingerprint, which would prevent them from voting twice. The polling booth and ballot boxes were the ones used for the presidential election.

The polling station was decorated with pictures of the candidates. A large banner nearby read: "With the direct election of the community unit head, we strengthen democracy ahead of the direct election of Makassar mayor."

The voting wound up at 3 p.m. Chairul Anwar Korompot won a landslide victory with 200 votes, defeating Saharudin and Abdul Kadir, who earned 50 and 51 votes respectively. Only one ballot was declared invalid.

Chief of the election committee Franky Lawalata said preparations for the election, which had been staged at a cost of Rp 5 million, had started a month beforehand.

The idea to hold the election had been a local resident's. When head of Kampung Buyang subdistrict Andi Martan learned of the idea he had welcomed it as an opportunity to educate people on voting procedures ahead of the regional government head elections.





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