Mon, 26 May 2003

Tight schedule awaits provincial KPUD members

Muninggar Sri Saraswati, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

A tight schedule awaits the 150 members of the provincial-level Regional General Elections Commission (KPUD), who were sworn in on Saturday to organize the upcoming general elections.

Indonesia will hold its first direct general elections next year, with the legislative election slated for April 5 and the presidential election between June and August.

KPU chairman Nazaruddin Syamsuddin said that although voter registration had not fulfilled the target, as the deadline had already passed, the elections would go on as scheduled.

"Some provincial KPUDs will meet with difficulties in conducting their work; but the process must go on," Nazaruddin told commission members.

He was referring to certain provinces that are now facing security issues.

The newly installed provincial KPUD members come from 30 provinces across the country, and underwent a three-day training in Jakarta before they were sworn in.

A KPUD member from Central Java said he doubted the preparations for the elections would run smoothly, due to the tight schedule.

"Each province faces different challenges. I don't think all of us could complete the preparations on time," said the KPUD member, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Hasballah, a KPUD member from Aceh, concurred, saying that the war now underway in the province would make it very difficult for him and his colleagues to do their jobs.

"I'm afraid almost no one from the regencies in Aceh will turn up for the election," he said, predicting that not all regencies would manage to organize the elections.

Another obstacle faced by the Aceh KPUD is that residents from several areas in the province do not possess identity cards, which some residents claim were seized by the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) separatist rebels.

Voter registration in Aceh has so far covered only 60 percent of the province's population of 4.2 million, lower than the national target, which has been set at 98 percent.

Each KPUD comprises five members, who, like the General Elections Commission (KPU) members, are nonpartisan.

The main duty of each provincial KPUD is to organize the upcoming legislative elections in 2004 at the provincial level and to select members of KPUDs at the municipality and regency levels.

The provincial KPUDs will also have to verify the existence of political parties' regional chapters in order to determine their eligibility for the 2004 elections.

Under the Political Party Law, each party must have offices in 50 percent of the country's provinces, regencies and municipalities.