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Parliament asks military to restrict foreign observers in Aceh

Detik.com - March 5 2004

Anton Aliabbas, Jakarta – The People’s Representative Assembly (DPR) has asked the Aceh emergency military command (PDMD) to restrict the movement of foreign election observers in Aceh. This request was submitted in order to better monior the work of foreign observers.

“[This request is] in so that they only observe the organisation of the elections. And if their activities go beyond this it will be a violation. So, there needs to be clear rules on the activities which are carried out by foreign observers”.

This was revealed to journalists at the parliament by the deputy chairperson of the DPR, Soetardjo Soerjogoeritno, on Friday March 5.

Furthermore he said, the DPR supports providing insurance to all electoral officers who are working in Serambi Mekah [the Gateway of Mecca, Aceh]. “We support providing insurance to electoral officers in Aceh bearing in mind the risks that are faced under a state of marshal law as is the case at the moment”, he explained.

According to Soerjogoeritno, between February 18-20, the DPR sent a team to Aceh headed by the deputy chairperson of Commission I, Franklin William Kayhatu. The team met with relevant government officials such as local councils and the PDMD.

Soerjogoeritno said that the National Election Committee must immediately formulate a contingency plan because there are still many areas which have yet to receive election materials such as the regencies of South and West Aceh. “If by March 10 they still have not received them, we suggest there be a contingency plan to make ballot boxes from wood and it would be best if [local governments] provide polling stations with voting booths”, he said.

He added that coordination between electoral offices and respective local governments must be improved. “Because clearly there is still no coordination between electoral officers and local government. For example the regent and deputy regent of South Aceh have not yet been registered as voters while the Voter Registration Committee has declared that all perspective voters [in the regency] have been registered and reported to the central [government]”, said Soerjogoeritno. (jon)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

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