Jakarta – The East Aceh consultative leadership board (Muspida) has agreed to cancel candidate debate events ahead of the election of regional heads in the regency.
The cancellation was confirmed after Muspida members held a meeting at the East Aceh Police headquarters on Tuesday evening. They made the decision following a string of clashes between supporters of various regent candidates.
East Aceh Voters Supervisory Committee (Panwaslih) head Zainal Abidin initially insisted that candidate debate events must be held because they were one of several stages of the election process.
East Aceh Police head Adj. Sr. Comr. Rudi Purwiyanto said, however, that candidate debates were not part of elections.
"Concerning incidents that have occurred in the previous stages, it will be better if there is no candidate debate. We are worried that it will incite clashes between supporters of candidate pairs," he said.
Zainal said General Elections Commission (KPU) Regulation No. 12/2016 stipulated that a candidate debate was part of campaign activities. "You should read a law or regulation thoroughly so you can understand it in accordance with its context," he said.
Echoing Zainal, the Idi Prosecutor's Office intelligence division head, Khairul, said in the 2016 KPU regulation, a candidate debate could be defined as a campaign event, which meant debates were part of campaign activities and could be chosen as a campaign method.
"The independent elections commission can skip candidate debate events, while for candidate pairs, there will be no sanctions if candidate debate events do not take place," said Khairul.
After the discussion, the Muspida members agreed there would be no candidate debate for East Aceh regent and deputy regent candidate pairs.
The campaign teams of the Ridwan Abubakar-Abdul Rani and Hasballah HM Thaib-Syahrul Syamaun pairs also agreed to the removal of debates. This makes East Aceh the only regency in Aceh that will not hold candidate debates ahead of the simultaneous regional elections scheduled for Feb. 15. (ebf)