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Govt, election organizers agree to restrict mass gatherings during regional elections

Jakarta Post - September 22, 2020

Ghina Ghaliya, Jakarta – The Home Ministry and election organizers have agreed to revise a General Elections Commission (KPU) regulation (PKPU) to ensure COVID-19 health protocols are followed during this year's regional elections.

In Monday's hearing, Home Minister Tito Karnavian and House of Representatives Commission II overseeing home affairs urged the KPU to immediately change a regulation that allows candidates to hold rallies and concerts on the campaign trail, as it was counterproductive to the country's efforts to curb COVID-19 transmission.

"Therefore, there are things that need to be changed in the PKPU, such as the article allowing for mass gatherings and concerts," Tito said.

Previously, Tito said he would propose either a revision to the existing KPU regulation or create a specific government regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) on the matter.

However, during the hearing, Tito argued that making a specific Perppu would take quite a long time, which was not ideal in these pressing times. He also said the KPU should increase the number of voting booths and polling stations for December's regional elections.

Nevertheless, several lawmakers and the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) demanded the government to issue a Perppu on the matter instead of revising the KPU regulation.

"Having a Perppu will give us more legal certainty," Bawaslu head Abhan said during the hearing.

KPU commissioner Ilham Saputra said the KPU had prepared a draft of the KPU regulation revision. However, the commission expressed concern that the would-be revised regulation would overlap with existing laws.

"Not having the [needed] Perppu will make us vulnerable when facing legal challenges but we are ready to change the PKPU," he said.

Commission II chairman Ahmad Doli Kurnia said the House would continue to evaluate the regulations regarding regional elections amid the pandemic and would be open to any possible new regulation or revisions.

"The important thing to change is the PKPU now. We can follow up later if we need other legal instruments. There is still a possibility," the Golkar Party politician said.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/09/22/govt-election-organizers-agree-to-restrict-mass-gatherings-during-regional-elections.html