Security Beefed Up in Time for Elections

Security Beefed Up in Time for Elections
Jakarta Globe, march 10th, 2009, by Farouk Arnaz

Plans by the National Police to provide additional security during the legislative and presidential elections have already swung into action in regions that have seen periods of local conflict in recent years.

More than 600 Mobile Brigade, or Brimob, officers normally based in Depok near Jakarta have been deployed recently to Papua, Maluku and Aceh.

National Police Chief Gen. Bambang Hendarso Danuri said on Monday the officers would remain there until Oct. 20, the date on which the newly elected president and vice president were scheduled to be inaugurated.

He said the police had classified polling stations in the three provinces in the "prone to conflict" category, meaning each would be secured on polling day by at least two police officers and four local civilian police auxiliaries. "We are not underestimating the situation in those provinces," Bambang said.

The police would remain particularly alert to any possibility of a terrorist threat during the elections, Bambang added.

"Do not give them any chance to strike, that’s the key," Bambang said. "There are several places in Indonesia where we still have our best men stationed in order to catch terrorists."

Insp. Gen. Saleh Saaf, head of the National Police intelligence unit, said the reason some polling stations were categorized as "prone to conflict" was based not only on security concerns, but also because they were located in remote and inaccessible areas.

"In relation to Ambon and Papua, we already have experienced how tough it is to get the election logistics in place there," he said.

Papua Governor Barnabas Suebu recently appealed for government help to ensure election materials reached remote and inaccessible areas, fearing that without government support, deliveries to the subdistrict level would be delayed.

In Papua Province, some 70 percent of election materials such as voting papers and polling booths must be delivered by air, while the rest are delivered by land, sea and river.