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Ensuring a peaceful, smooth and safe electoral process on April 17

Ensuring a peaceful, smooth and safe electoral process on April 17

Transporting ballot boxes (Foto PPK Kampar Kiri Hulu)

Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelagic nation with some 17 thousand islands, has been holding relatively peaceful and smooth general elections since its Independence in 1945.

This year is a little different as Indonesia, the world’s fourth largest democracy, is preparing for its biggest and most complex one-day simultaneous legislative and presidential elections on April 17.

A total of 190,779,969 eligible voters across the country will flock to polling booths to cast their ballots for their representatives at the House of Representatives (DPR), Regional Representatives Council (DPD), as well as provincial and district/city legislative bodies. They will also vote for their preferred pair of presidential and vice presidential candidates.

In addition, 2,086,285 Indonesian nationals overseas are also eligible to exercise their voting rights during the electoral process from April 8-14 in various countries. However, the ballots will be counted along with the votes in Indonesia's 34 provinces on April 17.

Chairman of the General Election Commission (KPU) Arief Budiman recently noted that the commission had set up 809,699 polling stations across the country.

The 2019 race will be a re-play of the contentious 2014 presidential election that exposed the nation's divide, as Joko Widodo (Jokowi) faced retired general Prabowo Subianto. Incumbent Jokowi has picked well-known cleric Ma'ruf Amin as his running mate, while Subianto has paired with successful, young businessman Sandiaga Uno.

Vice President M. Jusuf Kalla has forecast that the 2019 elections will record a voter turnout exceeding 75 percent, or more than 69.8 percent in the 2014 election, and some 70 percent in 2009.

Previously, the election turnout was some 70 percent, although this time around, it is expected to cross 75 percent since the 2019 elections seem to have garnered additional interest among the voters, the vice president informed the press.

Two days prior to the elections, Coordinating Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto officiated at a meeting held to discuss final preparations for security arrangements pertaining to the electoral process.

Chief of the Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI) Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto, National Police (Polri) Chief General Tito Karnavian, General Election Commission (KPU) Chairman Arief Budiman, Election Supervisory Board (Bawaslu) Chairman Abhan, National Intelligence Agency (BIN) Head Budi Gunawan, Chiefs of Staff of the Air Force, Army, and Navy, Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo, and Communication and Informatics Minister Rudiantara, were some of the attendees at the meeting held at Wiranto's office on April 15, 2019.

Wiranto has made adequate security arrangements during the legislative and presidential elections to be held simultaneously for the first time and has appealed to all stakeholders to ascertain that the election process is implemented in a peaceful, smooth, and successful manner.

"We have to ensure the process is held in a peaceful, smooth, and successful manner," Wiranto, the Indonesian Defense Forces' (TNI's) ex-commander, said.

The minister believes that those planning to cast their ballot must be guaranteed protection on Wednesday and those eligible to vote should have free and safe access to polling stations, he emphasized.

Those tasked with executing the election should be able to optimally fulfill their tasks across polling stations in Indonesia.

"This is also applicable while preparing for the vote counting process," he stated. An election is deemed successful when it can produce top leadership across all levels to take the country forward to realize a brighter future in the next five years, he reiterated.

Many parties believe that Polri and TNI personal will replicate the success in guarding the election process once again this year.

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.

Meanwhile, Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu spoke about the readiness of the Special Force of the Indonesian Air Force to assist in safeguarding the electoral process.

"During the election period, the Special Force Corps will aid in ensuring the success of the 2019 election by backing up security arrangements," the minister noted in a statement on April 15.

Some personnel of the Special Force have also been stationed across different regions to facilitate the process of securing the elections.

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

The TNI and Polri bear a huge responsibility for maintaining security that can help support a healthy democracy.