Eight hopefuls declared
eligible for Aceh gubernatorial

Nani Afrida, The Jakarta Post, Banda Aceh

Eight pairs of candidates are eligible to contest Aceh's Dec. 11 gubernatorial elections, the Aceh Independent Elections Commission declared Monday.

Among the hopefuls running for governor are a retired general and former head of the military district command and a former member of the rebel Free Aceh Movement (GAM).

Former Iskandar Muda Military Command head Maj. Gen. (ret) Djali Yusuf, and GAM's representative on the Aceh Monitoring Mission (AMM) Irwandi Yusuf are two candidates running on independent tickets.

Djali's running mate is Syauqas Rahmatillah, while the chairman of the GAM-affiliated Aceh Center for Referendum Information, Muhammad Nazar, will pair with Irwandi for the deputy governor's post.

Five other candidate pairs were nominated by national political parties.

These include Azwar Abubakar, the former caretaker governor of Aceh, endorsed by the National Mandate Party and the Prosperous Justice Party; and Regional Representatives Council legislator Malek Raden nominated by the Golkar Party, the Democrat Party, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle and the small Indonesian Justice and Unity Party.

A Properous Justice Party lawmaker, Nasir Jamil, will contest the deputy post with Azwar.

Nine pairs of candidates had registered to run for the provincial election but the Aceh Independent Elections Commission has rejected the candidacy of Azwir and Ramidhin Syukur for ""administrative reasons"". The commission made no further explanation for the exclusion.

""All candidates have informally said they are ready to win and prepared to lose. Formally, we will soon organize an collective signed agreement for peaceful elections,"" commission head M. Jafar told Reuters.

Official campaigning will not start until later this month.

Voting day will also see the Acehnese elect 19 regents and mayors across the tsunami-damanged province.

In a related development, the central government and GAM have agreed to increase the number of police in the province to anticipate potential unrest during the polls.

A spokesperson with the AMM said 2,433 police would be deployed to maintain security during the elections.

Earlier, the head of a European Union team that will observe the elections said last week most of the candidates he had met were confident of winning.

He said he was concerned that sore losers could cause trouble if their expectations were dashed.

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