Indonesia: Possibility of local dynasties after court ruling

Indonesia: Possibility of local dynasties after court ruling
PHOTO: AFP

The government and election organizers have welcomed on Wednesday the ruling of the Constitutional Court (MK) that will allow relatives of incumbents to run in simultaneous local elections on Dec. 9.

The Constitutional Court scrapped an article in the 2015 Regional Elections Law that bans relatives of incumbent regional heads from running in local elections designed in order to prevent the formation of political dynasties in local regions. The Court argued that the provision was a violation of the constitutional rights of citizens.

"We can't complain about the ruling although we considered every aspect of it when drafting the law. But we agree that this concerns constitutional rights and the Court is the guardian of the Constitution," Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna H. Laoly said after a limited Cabinet meeting held to discuss the Dec. 9 regional elections.

As the deadline for candidate registration is set to expire in three weeks, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo invited General Elections Commission (KPU) chairman Husni Kamil Manik, Election Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) chairman Muhammad and Election Organisation Ethics Council (DKPP) chairman Jimly Asshiddiqie to join the Cabinet meeting.

The KPU, Husni said, would soon prepare a regulation to accommodate the Constitutional Court's new ruling.

Husni said that the government had also started to make preparations to anticipate possible violations, which could likely take place in the misuse of local facilities and abuse of power in helping the relatives of incumbents win elections.

"We have prepared some steps. The President has instructed the Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform Ministry to issue a circular to remind all civil servants to remain neutral in the local elections," Husni said. "The Bawaslu will also improve its monitoring to ensure state facilities will not be misused by incumbents."

Husni said that the ruling would not disrupt the schedule of the local elections.

Muhammad of Bawaslu also said that he has asked for government support in ensuring civil servants stay neutral during the local elections.

"We must pay serious attention to this matter. We have asked for government support because we understand that in a local election, local elites are involved," he said. "A local election may trigger conflicts, caused among others by the abuse of our bureaucracy and civil servants."

Jimly, who regretted the MK's decision, also warned that incumbents could use their influence to unfairly bolster their relatives.

The Wednesday meeting also agreed to give all parties equal treatment in participating in the regional elections by demanding that two parties involved in internal conflicts - the United Development Party (PPP) and the Golkar Party - contest local elections only if the two sides agree to a truce.

"The two sides in each party must agree to name the same candidate to join the contest," Jimly said.

The meeting also agreed not to delay the scheduled local elections.

"Citing the President's statement [during the meeting], there is no walking back in the staging of the local elections in 2015," Jimly said.

Amid recent concerns raised by a number of lawmakers over the lack of funding for security measures during the local elections, National Police chief Gen. Badrodin Haiti said that his personnel were ready to provide security measures to ensure smooth elections, adding that the lack of funding would not hamper the police.

In his opening speech to the cabinet meeting, Jokowi instructed Badrodin, Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo, Finance Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro and Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno, "to coordinate the security funding as soon as possible".

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