Tue, 04 Jan 2000

President agrees to poll schedule for troubled regions

JAKARTA (JP): President Abdurrahman Wahid has approved the Local Elections Committee's (PPL) plan to hold elections in three troubled provinces and newly established provinces and regencies before October this year, an official said on Monday.

The chairman of the General Elections Commission (KPU), Rudini, who established the 51 member PPL in November, said the President agreed to the plan but asked him to consult the House of Representatives and Ministry of Home Affairs.

"It must be decided beforehand whether the local elections will adopt the district system or maintain the present one," said Rudini after meeting with Abdurrahman. PPL chairman Agus Miftah joined Rudini for the meeting at Bina Graha presidential office.

Agus, from the Indonesian People's Party (Pari), said the elections would likely be held in June, or at the utmost in October, as required by the Law on Elections.

Agus said the planned polls would elect regional legislative councils in three new provinces -- North Maluku, Central Irian Jaya and East Irian Jaya -- and 43 new regencies, including Pidie and North Aceh in the troubled province of Aceh and on Mentawai Island off West Sumatra.

Other new and problematic regencies and mayoralties are located in Riau, Jambi, East Kalimantan, West Kalimantan, East Nusa Tenggara, Central Sulawesi and North Sulawesi.

"The deadline for the elections is in October, but we plan the elections to be held in June," said Agus, who opposed Abdurrahman's candidacy for the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) membership as the representative of the Functional Group in September last year.

Agus previously said the planned polls would increase the number of House of Representative (DPR) members by 32 and People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) members by 15.

According to Election Law No. 4/1999, each regency should be represented in the DPR and each province deserves five representatives in the MPR.

The KPU has estimated the cost of the upcoming elections at about Rp 240 billion (US$34 million).

"However, this is only our proposal. The final decision is up to the government," said Agus. (prb)