President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has called on polling officials and observers to anticipate a slew of conflicts leading up to and arising from the 2014 general and presidential elections.
In a closed meeting on Tuesday with officials from the General Elections Commission (KPU) and the Elections Supervisory Board (Bawaslu), Yudhoyono warned that because there was no clear frontrunner emerging for either poll, competition between the parties and candidates would be tighter than ever.
There was thus a high potential for election-related conflict, KPU chairman Husni Kamil Manik told reporters after the meeting.
“According to the president, because he’s not running again and the [presidential] candidates will be new, he predicts there will be some kind of conflict,” he said. “He explained that we are still developing as a democracy and that there would inevitably be such conflicts, and that the KPU would be dragged into them.”
Husni said Yudhoyono had advised the election organizers to prevent any conflicts arising by preparing for the polls well in advance and ensuring that they ran better than previous elections.
Among his recommendations was that the KPU ensure the accuracy of the voter list. The inclusion of up to hundreds of thousands of ineligible or nonexistent voters in the lists has marred previous general and local elections, including the Jakarta gubernatorial election earlier this month.
Husni said the KPU had informed Yudhoyono of its plans for the upcoming general election, as well as the tentative polling date of April 9, 2014. “The president was amenable to the date because it doesn’t coincide with any religious or national holidays,” Husni said.
He also said the KPU planned to begin verifying the parties taking part in the election from Aug. 9 this year.
Yudhoyono also called on the Bawaslu to improve its monitoring function by focusing more on preventing electoral violations rather than addressing them after they occurred.
Muhammad, the Bawaslu chairman, said past experience had shown that resolving electoral disputes frequently took a long time and plenty of financial and human resources, whereas preventive measures were more efficient.
He said that as part of that effort, his office and the KPU were drafting a set of regulations to reduce the potential for violations.
Bawaslu has also proposed recruiting university students to help in its monitoring function at the local level.