Wed, 03 Sep 2003

House to allow independent to contest elections

Kurniawan Hari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Independent candidates should be allowed to contest local elections provided they have not been affiliated to a political party for four years, the House of Representatives legislation committee says.

The proposal was adopted by the committee on Tuesday in revisions to Law No. 22/1999 on regional administrations.

The draft revision will be sent to a plenary meeting for further deliberation as will government-sponsored revisions of the law.

"We hope the amended law will take effect in October next year, three months after the inauguration of legislative councils," committee chairman Zein Badjeber said Tuesday.

Zein, of the United Development Party (PPP) faction, said amendments to the 1999 law aimed to improve the elections of regents and governors and the composition of the legislative councils in regencies and provinces.

Patrialis Akbar of the Reform faction said the draft would pave the way for an overhaul of the regional administration law, which many say has given too much power to regional administrations.

"Other issues, such as borders between regions and relations between regional administrations and central government will be discussed later," Patrialis said.

Earlier, Ferry Mursyidan Baldan of Golkar said legislators were planning to revise all the articles in the law, which was implemented in 2000.

There has been concerns among the public over practices of money politics in the election of governors or regents by local legislative councils in several provinces. The practices encourage the elected officials to abuse their powers during their terms in office in order to recover the money they spent to bribe councillors to vote for them.

Article 38 of the draft revision states that gubernatorial and regental candidates and their running mates are elected directly by the people.

The candidates can be nominated by political parties, a group of parties or individuals, the article says.

Names of the candidates shall be submitted to the respective regional general elections commission (KPUD).

Individual candidates must enjoy support from a certain number of people and will be decided on by the regional general elections commissions, the draft says.

Individuals contesting the elections must not hold positions in or have been affiliated to political parties for at least four years before they register for the election.