Indonesia’s Papua councilors recommend revision in local election system

Politicians have called for elections in Papua to revert a parliamentarian system, out of fears that the current direct voting system, while more democratic, may trigger social violence.

“Many people have fallen as casualties in the lead-up to the elections in several regencies in Papua. I call from the respected [legislative] council for the violence to be brought to an end,” Papua Legislative Council Speaker John Ibo said while closing a council session on the budget in Jayapura on Friday (17/02).

“In order to prevent chaos in democracy, I appeal to the central government to consider revising the electoral system, both in the provinces and the regencies/municipalities,” John said.

Clashes among candidates’ supporters have been rife since July last year, killing 59 in Puncak regency, according to the police.

Violent clashes have also marred the build-up to the election in Tolikara regency, prompting a postponement of the poll from its originally scheduled date of Feb. 17.

The latest clash flared up on Friday, leaving one dead, tens of supporters from the opposing political camps injured, 30 buildings burned, two cars and a motorcycle vandalized. As many as 34 injured people were evacuated to hospitals in Jayapura and Wamena.

“One person was found dead, charred in one of the houses burned by the mob,” Papua Police deputy chief Insp. Gen. Paulus Waterpauw told reporters.

The election features two candidate pairs John Tabo — H Edi Suyanto and Usman Wanimbo — Amos Jikwa.

Tensions mounted in the pre-election phase as the two pairs disputed the list of the District Election Committee membership released by the Papua General Election Commission (KPUD).

John Tabo said that the names would advantage his rival.

Yop Kagoya, the deputy speaker of Papua legislative council, called for restraint from the two sides.

“The election in Tolikara has been delayed for two years. If delayed further, development would be hampered and this would disadvantage the citizens,” he said.

He said realities on the ground did not yet match with the aspirations associated with a direct voting system, which sought to educate people in developing a mature democracy.

“The people are not mature yet, neither are the political elite. They are not ready to accept defeat, which results in them resorting to violence. Organizers of elections in the regencies are terrorized and intimidated. People are prone anarchic acts,” he said.

“The central government needs to reconsider the system of election used in Papua. It’s better to return it to the DPRD [regional legislative council]. While the cost is small, potential conflicts could be minimized,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Papua police have sent another 65 personnel from the Mobile Brigade Unit (Brimob) to help local police secure and maintain control over the situation in Tolikara.

Source: The Jakarta Post

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