Sat, 03 Apr 2004

Registration cut-off set for Saturday

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Saturday is the deadline for unregistered voters to report to local election officials, while registered voters are given until one day before April 5 to acquire their required cards.

Mulyana W. Kusumah of the General Elections Commission (KPU), however, said that unregistered voters would be able to exercise their constitutional right only if it was found that the Central Statistics Agency had failed to register them, or if their residential documents proved that they should have been registered as voters.

A few days ahead of the poll, slated for April 5, the commission is facing increasing criticism not only for its failure to deliver all election materials on time, but also because scores of people may be denied their right to vote.

The number of eligible voters reached 147,494,478 as of March 14 according to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) which conducted a census prior to registration.

It has been estimated that the number of unregistered voters stands at 0.5 percent. Election supervisors in North Sumatra alone estimate the figure in the province at 1.5 million.

The commission's deputy chairman Ramlan Surbakti said that registered voters who had not acquired their cards had until Sunday to present their identity cards to the local working committee for polling stations (KPPS). The KPPS would then verify their documents with their list of eligible voters.

The KPPS should have informed all eligible voters to exercise their voting rights in their specific polling stations by Friday.

BPS head Soedarti Surbakti claimed on Friday that her office had conducted voter registration from April 1 to May 15 2003 across the country, except for Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam (until last December) and Papua (until last May).

"Those who are still unregistered were not at homes or refused to be registered at that time," Soedarti was quoted by Antara as saying.

Commission chairman Nazaruddin Sjamsuddin has said that additional ballots were not intended for people who "refused to be registered". The KPU earlier announced that citizens could also report to local election officials if they had not been registered.

Meanwhile, about 200 students of the Indonesian Muslim Students Association (HMI) Ambon chapter and Darussalam University staged a protest in front of KPU local office in Ambon, demanding an explanation for the 20,000 voters still unregistered.

"The KPU should responsible for the unregistered voters. If they cannot solve the problem, the KPU should be dissolved," said Rofik Akbar Afifudin of HMI.

In Kendari, Southeast Sulawesi, the local KPU office registered hundreds of new voters after conducting a new voter identification.

"However we did not accept them all since many lacked accurate data, for instance their registration forms were not signed by the local authorities," KPU Kendari chief Tumbo Saranani said,

In Kadia subdistrict, Kendari, only 10 voters among 410 eligible voters were reportedly registered for the election while dozens of eligible voters in many subdistricts remained unregistered.