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Bawaslu recommends postponing elections in areas affected by COVID-19

Jakarta Post - March 18, 2020

Ghina Ghaliya, Jakarta – The Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) has recommended that the General Elections Commission (KPU) prepare for delays to the 2020 regional elections in areas where people have tested positive for COVID-19.

Bawaslu head Abhan said Tuesday that the agency had sent a recommendation letter to the KPU on Monday, asking the commission to identify areas where "vote postponements" and "restaged votes" might take place.

The terms pemilihan lanjutan (vote postponement) and pemilihan susulan (restaged vote), Abhan said, were stipulated in Law No. 10/2016 on regional elections.

With a vote postponement, an ongoing election is scheduled for a later date after election organizers agree to halt it due to force majeure.

With a restaged vote, the entire election process is redone from the start, also for reasons of force majeure.

"The law doesn't recognize a vote delay. Therefore, it's important for the KPU to immediately map the areas where some election stages would still be feasible and the areas that would completely be unable to hold elections," he said.

Areas the agency has identified as COVID-19 red zones are Bekasi, Depok, Cirebon and Purwakarta in West Java; Tangerang and South Tangerang in Banten; Surakarta in Central Java; Pontianak in West Kalimantan; Manado in North Sulawesi; Bali; and Yogyakarta.

"The KPU should hold discussions with the relevant ministries on responding to the effects of the coronavirus, as well as issue a legal product as a guideline for us [Bawaslu] and the election participants," Abhan said.

He added that Bawaslu also recommended that the KPU implement a technical guideline for the mechanisms for each election stage with intensive communication between officials and voters.

Bawaslu member M. Afifuddin said that Bawaslu, the KPU and the Election Organization Ethics Council (DKPP) would hold a joint meeting with the coordinating political, legal and security affairs minister and home minister on Wednesday to discuss the matter.

Arwani Thomafi, the deputy chairman of the House of Representatives Commission II overseeing home affairs, agreed with Bawaslu's recommendation, saying the KPU should immediately identify areas affected by the disease by coordinating with the relevant authorities.

"A decision for a vote postponement or restaged vote in some regions should be based on objective conditions in the field; in this case, the mapping of areas exposed to the coronavirus," the United Development Party (PPP) politician said.

House Commission II deputy chairman Arif Wibowo said the 2020 regional elections should not be postponed entirely in all regions but only in the areas that were seriously affected.

"We must see it case by case and measure it with accountable reasons. For example, we can look at an area's election vulnerability index to mitigate conflict. There's no need to delay an election in areas with good indexes," said Arif, an Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician.

Commission II chairman Ahmad Doli Kurnia of the Golkar Party urged the KPU not to be quick to delay a vote: "For the time being, just continue the stages of the elections that have been taking place. However, the KPU should limit activities involving large groups of people."

As of Tuesday, Indonesia had 172 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including in regions slated to hold the 2020 regional elections in September, such as Surakarta and Semarang in Central Java and Denpasar in Bali. At least five have died from the disease, while nine have recovered.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/03/17/bawaslu-recommends-postponing-elections-in-areas-affected-by-covid-19.html