Thu, 11 Mar 1999

Election committee holds first session

JAKARTA (JP): The first plenary session of the new National Election Committee on Wednesday continued to midnight, but the 53 members had yet to decide on the chairman and two deputies.

The committee, comprising five government representatives and 48 political party representatives, had named lawyer Adnan Buyung Nasution representing the government, Harun Al Rasyid of the Muslim Community Party/Partai Umat Islam), former minister of home affairs Rudini of the MKGR Party and Yacob Tobing of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) among likely candidates.

The Committee replaces the old General Elections Institute chaired by the minister of home affairs.

The formation of the committee, originally scheduled for March 1, was delayed by 10 days reportedly because the Armed Forces insisted on a seat on the committee.

"Many duties must be carried out in a short time," Ryaas Rasyid, the Ministry of Home Affair's director general for regional autonomy and public administration, said during the session. The committee's main challenge is to show the nation and the world that despite pluralism, the country can hold free and fair elections, he said.

The committee's tasks will include drawing up rules for the scheduled June 7 general election, establishing offices in provinces, regencies and mayoralties and drawing up an electoral code of conduct.

A presidential decree announced the committee lineup.

The five government representatives are respected civilians: apart from Adnan, they are political experts Afan Gaffar and Andi A. Mallarangeng, former judge Adi Andojo Sutjipto and Oka Mahendra, an expert at the justice ministry.

"Tomorrow the installment of the committee members will take place. The day after that the work must start," Ryaas said.

The five government representatives have a balanced vote with the other 48 members -- an issue debated in Wednesday's selection of chairman and deputies. Minister of Home Affairs Syarwan Hamid had insisted that government officials not sit on the committee given the government's commitment to a free and fair election.

Adnan, Afan, Andi and Adi are former members of the disbanded Team of Eleven which sanctioned parties to contest the polls.

Ryaas said the chairman and deputies would only act as facilitators. A source at the Ministry of Home Affairs told The Jakarta Post that the Armed Forces had insisted on a seat on the committee. It was earlier reported that Maj. Gen. Sudi Silalahi, an assistant to the Armed Forces chief of territorial affairs, was to be included on the committee.

"After taking the government's commitment to free and fair elections and other factors into consideration, it was decided to exclude the name nominated by the Armed Forces from the list of names proposed for the President's approval," the source said. (rms)