New Aceh Governor Urged to Prioritize Peace, Unity After Provincial Elections

By webadmin on 03:03 pm Apr 19, 2012
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Arientha Primanita

Home Affairs Minister Gamawan Fauzi is calling on Aceh Governor-elect Zaini Abdullah to improve security in the province and maintain ties with Jakarta.

“Our hope for the new governor and his deputy is that they maintain peace in the province, which is a part of the Unitary State of Indonesia,” Gamawan said, in an indirect reference to the province’s secessionist past.

Zaini and his running mate, Muzakir Manaf, were on Tuesday officially named the winners of the gubernatorial election held on April 9.

They ran on the ticket of the Aceh Party, founded by former members of the now-defunct Free Aceh Movement (GAM), a separatist group.

Gamawan said the Acehnese deserved credit for holding elections that were democratic, safe, peaceful and fair.

Elections observers, however, have reported many instances of intimidation and threats, while supporters of losing candidates have raised allegations of cheating. The lead-up to the polls was also marred by shootings and firebombings, allegedly linked to Aceh Party supporters.

Zaini, a former foreign minister for the GAM government-in-exile, won last week’s election with 55.8 percent of the vote, well ahead of his nearest rival, incumbent governor Irwandi Yusuf, who came in with 30 percent.

The Aceh Independent Election Monitoring Committee (KIPP) said on Wednesday that it was prepared for legal challenges to the official results it announced a day earlier.

Ilham Saputra, the KIPP deputy chairman, said anyone who objected to the results should file their dispute directly with the Constitutional Court, and not mob the KIPP headquarters.

He was referring to an arson attack on a KIPP office in Gayo Lues district after the polls last week, carried out by supporters of two losing candidates in the election for district head.

“We’d appreciate it if people went through the official channels and filed a complaint with the court rather than protesting at our office,” Ilham said.

For the gubernatorial results, anyone with objections must wait until Friday to lodge their dispute with the Constitutional Court in Jakarta, he added.

The KIPP reported that voter turnout for the polls, in which a governor, 13 district heads and four mayors were chosen, was relatively high at 75.6 percent across the province.

“This was a similar level to the 77 percent that we saw here for the 2009 national legislative and presidential elections,” said Akmal Abzal, a KIPP official.

The highest turnout was in Gayo Lues, with 87 percent of voters going to the ballot box. The lowest was in Banda Aceh, the provincial capital, at 56 percent.

Additional reporting from Antara