Wed, 12 Mar 2003

KPU urges government to speed up testing of new parties

Arya Abhiseka and Fabiola Desy Unidjaya, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The General Election Commission (KPU) urged the government on Tuesday to speed up the ongoing verification of new political parties to allow it to hold the general election and the presidential election ahead of the schedule.

Nazaruddin Sjamsuddin, chairman of KPU, said KPU could not do many works to prepare the general elections if it did not know the number of political parties to contend the general election.

He said KPU could not determine the number of parties eligible for the election because the Justice and Human Rights Ministry has yet to finish with the verification of more than 200 political parties registered with the ministry.

"There are a lot of duties to be carried out in fulfilling our own commitment to organizing the election ahead of the schedule," he said.

Nazaruddin said that besides conducting voters registration on April 1, KPU would verify political parties to make sure the number of parties contending the election and it could not start designing ballot papers, vote boxes, booths and many others unless it did not know the number of election contenders.

"We hope that the government will give us the data of the verified parties periodically, instead of giving a large amount of data at the last minute, so that KPU could examine whether the verified parties meet the legal requirements to contend the election " he said.

According to the newly endorsed election bill, some 237 parties must first go through two levels of examinations before they are declared eligible for the election.

The first-phase examination is conducted by the Justice and Human Rights Ministry and the second-phase test is conducted by KPU. The first test is aimed at checking whether the parties meet the legal requirements to exist and the second one is aimed at examining whether they meet legal requirements to contend the election.

Separately, Wicipto Setiadi, deputy chairman of the government's verification team said that his team would examine the new political parties in four groups and the examination of the last group was expected to finish in September.

"If KPU has urged us, then we can only urge parties to register as soon as they can with the ministry. They hold the key," he said.

He added that thus far only 18 parties were registered at the ministry, in which none had passed the eligibility test. The party registration deadline is on September 27 of this year.

"There are still the ones that use similar logos and attributes. It is mandatory for several to alternate the logos and attributes or facing disqualification, while the alternation process will take time," he said.

KPU has vowed to run the election in April 2004, tow months ahead of the schedule to give more chance for it to prepare the presidential election in June 2004 so that a new president and vice president could be sworn in October.

Meanwhile, president Megawati Soekarnoputri warned KPU to be independent in preparing the country's first ever direct presidential election.

Speaking in a closed door meeting with her party, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) cadres on Tuesday, Megawati underlined that KPU hold a pivotal role to ensure the success of the election.

"KPU should just work and be independent in preparing the election," Megawati said as quoted by the party's treasurer Noviantika Nasution on Tuesday.

"KPU members should not take the role as observers, researchers nor politicians, because people are tired in hearing those comments," she remarked.