All factions in Aceh must enforce democracy and solve the problems through dialogs,"
Jakarta (ANTARA) - After several postponements of Aceh regional simultaneous polls, the Constitutional Court (MK) finally allowed the Independent Election Commission in Aceh (KIP Aceh) to adjust the scheduling of the elections.

MK ruled that the polls had to take place by April 9, 2012, at the latest, the date requested by KIP Aceh.

Previously, KIP Aceh set the regional simultaneous polls on November 14, 2011, then postponed it to December 24, 2011 before the KIP rescheduled the polls on February 16, 2012.

The postponement of the elections was taken by the commission due to disputes surrounding the elections` preparations.

MK chairman Mahfud MD said in Jakarta on Friday (Jan 27) that KIP should adjust the sequence of its election process in accordance with the state regulations.

The first-ever simultaneous regional elections will consist of a poll for governor/deputy governor and elections for 17 district chiefs and mayors out of 23 districts/towns in Indonesia`s western-most province.

On Tuesday (Jan 17), the MK issued a preliminary ruling ordering the reopening of candidates registration for Aceh`s simultaneous regional chief elections for a period of seven days.

"The reopening of the registration process, including the verification and official announcement stages, is meant to give a chance to new candidates to register. They may be proposed by a political party or a coalition of political parties, or run as independent candidates. The reopening will last seven days since this preliminary ruling is announced," MK Chairman Mahfud MD said at the Tuesday hearing.

However, the KIP Aceh admitted that it was unable to implement all the decisions of MK on the implementation of elections in the region and therefore asked for a postponement until April 9.

"We are not able to carry out all the decisions of the court because some candidates have registered through individual channels," commissioner Yarwin Adi Dharma said in Banda Aceh on Monday.

MK in a meeting on January 17 issued a decision Number 1/SKLN-X/2012 after the home affairs minister Gamawan Fauzi filed a complaint to the General Elections Commission (KPU) and KIP regarding inter-institutional dispute over authority.

Under the ruling the court ordered Aceh KIP and KIPs of districts/cities to re-open registration of candidates to run for governor, district heads and city mayors and their deputies for seven days after the issuance of the ruling.

According to Yarwin, KIP could carry out the re-opening of the registration as well as health checks and the Quran literacy test. "But we are not able to conduct verification on individual candidates such as checking the validity of the IDs of their supporters as it would take long. Seven days are not enough for it," he said.

The reading ability of the Holy Quran was part of the subject matters in the mastery test set by the local KIP for the would be candidate pairs.

In addition, the Aceh KIP commissioner, Yarwin Adi Dharma said on Thursday (Jan 4) that the local KIP set a target of 75 percent of voters participation out of 3.2 million voters in the regional elections.

Meanwhile, the Aceh Party Board Leaders (DPA-PA) hailed the MK`s decision that allowed the KIP Aceh to adjust the scheduling of the elections.

Following the MK`s ruling, Aceh Party (the local ruling party) formally registered Zaini Abdullah and Muzakir Manaf as its candidates for governor and vice governor in the upcoming regional elections.

The local party`s candidates came to the Independent Election Commission (KIP) in Banda Aceh on Friday to formally register themselves for the election, accompanied by thousands of their supporters.

They were welcomed on arrival by KIP chief Abdullah Salam and four of the seven commissioners, namely Tgk Akmal Abzal, Nurjani Abdullah, Yarwin Adi Dharma and Robby Syah Putra.

With regard to the documents submitted by the Aceh Party to meet the requirements he said KIP would check them including the votes it collected from the legislative election in 2009 or number of seats it has in the regional legislative assembly (DPRA).

"Later in case shortcomings are found we will inform the party as well as the candidates to complete," he said.

Zaini Abdullah said he hoped he could receive information about the shortcomings immediately in case they were found so that he could complete them immediately.

Zaini Abdullah is a foreign minister of the former Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and also one of the figures signing the peace agreement with the government in Helsinki, August 15, 2005.

In the meantime, Muzakir Manaf is a former commander of GAM`s armed forces and now the general chairman of the Aceh Board of Leaders of the Aceh Party.

Aceh Party is the only local party in the province that was able to collect majority votes in the 2009 legislative election or secure 33 seats in the DPRA.

On the other hand, Aceh governor Irwandi Yusuf expressed regret on the MK`s decision that allowed the KIP Aceh to adjust the scheduling of the elections.

Relating to the upcoming polls, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono asked politicians in Aceh to exercise restraint to help ensure the smooth implementation of democracy in the region.

"I appeal to all politicians not to face off but exercise restraint," he said at a government working meeting in Jakarta on Thursday (Jan 19).

The head of state said politicians must not sacrifice democracy for the political interest of their groups.

He also called on all parties in Aceh to prioritize peaceful efforts in dealing with problems.

"Maintain the regional elections in Aceh so that they will run safely, fairly and democratically," he said.

Former vice president Jusuf M Kalla said mutual understanding and participation of all parties are needed to help solve the ongoing internal conflict concerning the implementation of regional head elections in Aceh.

"All factions in Aceh must enforce democracy and solve the problems through dialogs," Kalla said in Kuala Lumpur recently on the sidelines of a conference on "Global Movement of Moderates".

According to Kalla, without mutual understanding, it will be difficult to solve the problem currently going on in Aceh, he said.

Apart from that, Minister for state reform and former Aceh acting governor Aceh Azwar Abubakar expressed optimism that the regional simultaneous polls would run peacefully, fairly and in order.

In addition, many parties expected that the Aceh simultaneous regional elections will take place not later than April 9, 2012. (*)

Reporter: Bustanuddin
Editor: Aditia Maruli Radja
Copyright © ANTARA 2012