Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Retired military personnel are urged to remain neutral and avoid getting involved in practical politics, political observer from Habibie Center, Bawono Kumoro, said here on Friday.

Bawono was responding to the flourishing number of retired high-ranking military members getting involved in regional elections (either to support parties or as candidates) such as in West Java, Aceh and Jakarta.

"It`s legal for retired military personnel to stand for elections and get elected by the people, as they are no longer attached to the TNI. However, they must not use their power as former members of the military to influence the public to vote for certain candidates," he remarked.

Political rights of TNI personnel have been revoked since 1998, after the end of second President Soeharto`s era. However, retired military personnel are allowed to participate in politics.

Earlier, National Defense Forces (TNI) Chief Admiral Agus Suhartono responded to the question of whether or not it`s time to give back TNI personnel their political rights, saying that he was afraid of allowing servicemen to vote in the 2014 general elections as it would only cause divides in the military.

"I think our servicemen are not yet ready for it. If they are given the right to vote, I am afraid it will only cause divisions in the ranks and disturb the existing peaceful situation," he noted.

He added that based on the results of a survey on regional elections, people were not willing for TNI members to vote in the 2014 general elections.

"They will certainly try to draw us (servicemen) into supporting parties. In the context of security, it will be difficult for TNI members to remain neutral," he explained.

He also said that the readiness of the TNI and of the public need to be considered with regard to giving the voting right to TNI personnel.

These two factors need to be taken into consideration so as not to disrupt the solidity of the TNI and draw its members into partisan politics, Chief Admiral Suhartono said.

"So, the two parties must first be ready for it," he added.

He said, however, that if the House of Representatives (DPR) and the government jointly decided to give TNI the voting right, TNI would abide by it.

"But this is my view for now," he concluded.

Editor: Priyambodo RH
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