Governor warns for possibility of conflicts during elections

Cenderawasih Pos - The governor of the province of Papua is worried that the majority vote
principle is likely to cause conflicts between the parties or even
within parties. This is because it intensifies the competition between
candidates in their bid to win a seat. He has urged the local election
supervisory agencies to act in a spirit of independence and prevent any
unwanted intervention.

The possibility of horizontal conflict could occur over the manipulation
of data about voters. Such a problem occurered in 2004 in the district
of Mimika when the local electoral commission (KPUD) was implicated in
changing the data about voters in a way that helped one of the
contesting parties. Another danger was what he called the 'trading of
votes', especially in the more remote districts in the interior.

'The amount of money invested by the government in the elections is huge
and it would be too bad if the event were tarnished by cheating and
manipulation,' he said.

He also pointed to the large number of candidates competing for a small
number of seats. Fifteen candidates will be competing for four seats in
the DPD (Dewan Perwakilan Daerah); 1,103 candidates will be competing
for 56 seats in the DPRP (Papuan Regional Assembly), and in each of the
districts, between 200 - 500 candidates will be competing for 20 to 25
seats. It was crucial for the local supervisory agencies to preserve
their neutrality, behaving like referees in a football match. Cheating
incidents, should they occur, will be very difficult to resolve, he
said. [No figures were given for the number of candidates for the
national parliament, the DPR.]

The chief of police in the province has meanwhile called on the general
public to help preserve a calm atmosphere, to ensure that the elections
run smoothly. He said that the police would not hesitate to take firm
action against anyone who causes trouble. 'If there is an escalation in
armed actions, the police will act firmly,' he said.

He foresaw several possible disturbances, such as fighting betwen the
supporters of different parties, acts of sabotage by means of holding
public meetings (sic) and attacks launched by armed separatist groups.He
then went into detail about the number of police to be posted at the
various polling stations, with a higher number in places regarded as
rawan (unstable). One area of disruption might occur around the supply
to the polling stations of the equipment and voting slips.

As regards areas regarding as being unstable where attacks by
separatists were likely to occur, he said that the police would ask the
army help the police in safeguarding security during the election. He
said that this did not mean that soldiers would be on guard at the
polling stations but that they would stand guard in areas likely to be
attacked by separatists.

'If armed separatist groups take any action that can disrupt the
elections, the security forces will launch an all-out action to restore
security,' he said, adding that this may include chasing off the groups
in questions.

The bupati (district chief) of Jayawijaya has also pointed to the
possibility of conflict in the newly established districts. This was
more likely, he said, because there was only one electoral commission
for five districts, making the likelihood of conflict much greater.He
urged the political parties to behave responsibly, bearing in mind that
the elections were being held to serve the interests of the people, not
to serve personal interests. In one district, Wawalegama, there are 39
candidates competing for three seats. He said that any problems that
arise should be resolved locally and not taken to the higher
administrative body. He also urged anyone wanting to hold demonstrations
to confine their activities to the locality.