Mon, 26 May 2003

North Sumatra holds gubernatorial election today

Apriadi Gunawan The Jakarta Post Medan, North Sumatra

Three gubernatorial candidates and their running mates have committed themselves to not mobilizing their supporters, to avoid influencing the gubernatorial election scheduled for Monday.

They expressed the commitment before Chairman of the gubernatorial election committee Ahmad Azhari, North Sumatra Police chief Insp. Gen. Edy Sunarno and other local military and police officials in an informal meeting here on Saturday.

The three gubernatorial candidates who have gained approval from Home Minister Hari Sabarno were incumbent governor T. Rizal Nurdin, Chaeruman Harahap and Amrun Daulay.

Rizal and his running mate Rudolf Pardede were nominated by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan), the major faction at the provincial legislative council. Chaeruman, also chief of the government prosecutor's office in the city, and his running mate, Serta Ginting, were promoted by the Golkar Party, the second major faction at the provincial legislature. Amrun, a government official at the social affairs ministry, and his running mate, Baskami Ginting, were supported by the National Mandate Party (PAN).

During the meeting, the three pairs were given the opportunity to present their manifestos for the gubernatorial election and they expressed their commitment to participate in the election fairly, democratically and peacefully.

"The gubernatorial election must proceed peacefully and democratically; we are committed not to mobilizing our own supporters, to avoid a chaotic situation during the election. All pairs of candidates will attend the election," said governor Rizal.

Chairman of the local PAN chapter Azwir Sofyan said he had also ordered party members and supporters not to stage any action and not to use party attributes during their attendance in the election.

Edy appreciated the three pairs' pledge of not deploying their own supporters, saying it would help the police maintain security and order during the election.

"We shall do everything to maintain security and order during the election and the police have conducted searches in certain areas in the city as preliminary preparations for the maintenance of security and order on Monday," he said.

Secretary of the provincial legislature Nurdin Lubis said local security authorities would deploy 1,200 police and military personnel to ensure security and order on Monday.

"Besides, the police will guard 85 councillors who will elect a new governor for the 2003-2008 period," he said, citing that all councillors were staying at Hotel Tiara in the city a day before and after the election.

Secretary of the PDI Perjuangan faction Idham Hasibuan criticized the putting up of councillors at the hotel as unnecessary, saying such action was against the freedom principle.

"I personally oppose such a placement. The gubernatorial election is a constitutional event that should proceed normally; it is not necessary to quarantine councillors before and after the election," he said.

Justice Party (PK) local chapter chairman Nuh Abdul Muiz concurred and said such action had belittled the legislature.

"I'd have no objection if councillors were brought under police guard from their own houses but it is not necessary to put them in a hotel under tight security," he said.