Police, military gear up for 2019 election security

Police, military gear up for 2019 election security

President Joko Widodo, Minister Wiranto, Gen Tito Karnavian, and Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto . (ANTARAFOTO/PUSPA PERWITASARI)

Jakarta  (ANTARA News) - Indonesia will hold simultaneous legislative and presidential elections throughout the country`s 34 provinces on April 17, 2019, believed to be one of the world`s most complex elections.

Of its total population of 260 million people, over 185.6 million are registered as illegible voters in Indonesia.

The General Election Commission (KPU) will set up a total of 801,838 polling stations in the world`s largest archipelago with over 17 thousand island.

The next presidential and legislative elections will be the fourth organized directly, democratically, and simultaneously across the country, which is considered as the world`s fourth largest democratic nation.

With its independence declared on Aug 17, 1945, Indonesia held its first elections in 1955, but it was not direct elections. The first direct presidential election was organized in 2004.

Most of the elections were relatively safe and peaceful. And this year, many parties believe that the Indonesian Police (Polri) and the Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI) personal will replicate their success in guarding the election process once again.

The Indonesian Police will deploy 272 thousand officers, and the TNI 43 thousand officers to secure the implementation of the 2019 elections.

In addition to the military and police personnel, some 1.73 million members of Linmas (community protection group) or civilian security personnel will also be involved in the security team.

A joint meeting of the police and military leadership was organized in Jakarta on Jan 29, 2019, to discuss security measures for the 2019 general elections.

Polri Chief General Tito Karnavian and TNI Chief Hadi Tjahjanto were present at the opening of the three-day closed-door meeting themed "Based on professionalism, solidity, and neutrality, TNI-Polri synergize to secure the 2019 general elections and the national development to protect the integrity of NKRI (the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia)."

Speaking before the meeting`s participants, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) underscored the importance of the TNI`s and Polri`s neutrality in the elections.

"TNI/Polri`s politics is state politics. Therefore, they need to maintain neutrality and, more importantly, ensure smooth elections and peaceful conditions," he stated.

In fact, TNI`s and Polri`s neutrality in the general elections is key to maintaining security and public order.

Gen Karnavian earlier remarked that a synergy among stakeholders is crucial for the success of the simultaneous elections.

The TNI and Polri bear a huge responsibility to maintain security that can help support healthy democracy, he added.

The Police Chief also called on political parties and legislative candidates to conduct polite campaigns.

"I appeal to prominent figures, media, everyone, parties, and legislative candidates to kindly promote polite ways," Karnavian stated.

He also emphasized that every party should run a positive campaign and minimize negative campaign, which is tolerable at certain limits.

Negative campaign exposing others` weaknesses must be accompanied by facts to enable the public to understand the pros and cons of their choices, he remarked.

"Black campaign is not allowed. It is a crime and, for sure, we will legally follow it up," Karnavian explained.

Karnavian added that he has instructed his subordinates to prepare a map of regions prone to violence during the election process. The police will take stern action to tackle security threats, he added.

The police have optimized surveillance, including cyber surveillance, he revealed.

Meanwhile, Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto noted that TNI will strengthen security measures in 16 regions considered prone to conflict during the election process period.

"We have received the election vulnerability index. There are 16 regions. We have mapped them out in cooperation with the police," the TNI Commander stated.

The 16 regions include Sulawesi, and TNI will deploy more military officers there, he noted.

He stated that TNI and Polri will continue to carry a synergy in order to make the upcoming simultaneous legislative and presidential elections successful, peaceful, and safe.

The 2019 presidential election is considered by many as a repeat of the bitter 2014 presidential race, wherein Jokowi and Prabowo Subianto are again set to go head-to-head.

Seeking a second term, 57-year-old Jokowi has picked Ma`ruf Amin (75), chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), as his partner, while retired general Subianto (67) has chosen Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno (49), a successful entrepreneur and former deputy governor of Jakarta, as his running mate.

Coordinating Minister for Politics, Legal, and Security Affairs Wiranto expressed optimism that the TNI and Polri would remain neutral during the 2019 elections and would overcome every obstacle that poses hindrance to the election process.

He lauded the TNI and Polri for their success in maintaining security during the simultaneous regional head elections held in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018.