Jakarta – Arya Fernandes, a political observer from the think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, or CSIS, gave a warning to the government to keep a close eye on next month's local election in Aceh, as the province has a long history of political conflicts.
The Aceh election will see a race between six pairs of candidates, including three running as independents.
Irwandi Yusuf and running mate Nova Iriansyah are endorsed by the Democratic Party, the Aceh National Party (PNA), the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and the National Awakening Party (PKB).
Incumbent deputy governor Muzakir Manaf and running mate T.A. Khalid are backed by the Aceh Party, the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), the Prosperous Justice Party and a Djan Faridz-led faction of the United Development Party (PPP).
Former governor Tarmizi A. Karim and T. Machsalmina Ali are supported by the Golkar Party, the National Democratic Party (NasDem), the Indonesian Justice and Unity Party (PKPI) and the Romahurmuziy-led PPP.
The independent candidates are incumbent governor Zaini Abdullah and his running mate Nasaruddin; Zakaria Saman and Teuku Alaidinsyah and former governor Abdullah Puteh and Sayed Mustafa.
"The Aceh election will have the incumbent governor, the current deputy governor and former governors competing against each other. The government must watch out since Aceh has a long history of political conflicts," Arya said in Jakarta on Wednesday (11/01).
Election watchdog Asian Network for Free Elections, or Anfrel, said there were threats and intimidation against the candidates, their campaign teams and their supporters in the last Aceh election in 2012. It included reports of voters being threatened by unknown groups for supporting certain candidates.
Juri Ardiantoro, the chairman of the General Elections Commission, or KPU, said Aceh and Papua are two regions that are expected to be conflict-prone during the 2017 simultaneous local polls.
"Things can get quite tense in the two provinces since they will hold the most number of local polls in February," Juri said.
Aceh will stage 20 polls to elect new governors, mayors and district heads, while Papua will stage 11 elections at the district and city levels.