Thu, 04 Dec 2003

KPU will welcome parties filing complaints

Muninggar Sri Saraswati, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The General Elections Commission (KPU) said on Wednesday that it welcomed complaints from parties that had not been declared eligible for next year's elections, but stressed that only valid protests would be entertained.

"Please, feel free to submit complaints but we will only entertain written objections with accompanying evidence. We will sort out which complaints have to be responded and which do not," said Mulyana W. Kusuma, the KPU member chairing the party verification team.

Only six of 40 parties undergoing field verifications have been declared eligible for next year's general election, while the remaining 34 must wait until Sunday (Dec. 7), when KPU is slated to announce the qualification of more political parties for the 2004 elections.

Mulyana said, in an unscheduled press conference on Wednesday, the commission had only received reports from 26 provincial elections commissions (KPUDs).

The press conference was also attended by dozens of leaders of political parties that had not yet been declared eligible for the elections.

Mulyana, however, said that the commission would respond to requests by political parties that were yet to be verified in the provinces or regencies they had proposed.

"We will order provincial elections commissions to do the verification in areas that have not been verified," said Mulyana, stressing that provincial KPUDs must be able to provide explanations to complaints filed by political parties.

As Mulyana was speaking to reporters, several leaders of new parties, such as Dimyati Hartono of the Indonesia Our Homeland Party (PITA) and Gempar Soekarnoputra of the Indonesia National Unifying Party (PPNI), waited for him at the KPU office, along with dozens of other political party leaders.

Dimyati told the press that he wanted to hear the KPU's explanation over the fate of his party, which according to the commission had failed the field verifications.

According to Dimyati, KPU had failed to verify his party's branch offices in a number of provinces and regencies.

KPU has yet to name political parties that failed the screening. Some newspapers, however, have published the names of political parties that are likely to fail to meet the requirement of having branch offices in at least two-thirds or 21 of the country's 32 provinces, and in two-third of regencies and municipalities in those provinces. Failing to meet the requirement means they will not be able to participate in the upcoming elections.

Indonesia is scheduled to hold the general election in April 2004, and two-phase direct presidential elections in July and September.

KPU announced on Tuesday that six of 40 new political parties had passed field verifications and thus, would be allowed to contest in next year's elections.

The six were identified as the Democratic Party, the Prosperous Justice Party, Concern for the Nation Functional Party, Indonesia Justice and Unity Party, Reform Star Party, and the Freedom Bull National Party.

Six other parties -- the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, Golkar, the United Development Party, the National Awakening Party, the National Mandate Party, and the Crescent Star Party -- automatically earned a space in the 2004 elections as they passed the two-percent electoral threshold in the 1999 elections.

Meanwhile, some 200 police officers have been deployed in front of the KPU office on Jl. Imam Bonjol, Central Jakarta to prevent possible demonstrations from supporters of political parties that failed the verification.