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The Jakarta Post
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Irwandi claims foul play during poll, plans court date

  • Hotli Simanjuntak and Nani Afrida

    The Jakarta Post

Banda Aceh | Wed, April 11 2012 | 08:36 am

Aceh gubernatorial candidate Irwandi Yusuf, the province’s incumbent governor, said on Tuesday that there were indications of fraud and elaborate intimidation by rivals before and during Monday’s local election.

Although the result of the election will not be officially announced until next week, Irwandi seemed to be sure that he was on the losing side after a nonofficial “quick count” by a survey organization placed his bitter rival, Zaini Abdullah, as the election winner.

Irwandi, the former intelligence chief for the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) separatist group, said his team would file complaints over the election results with the Constitutional Court, after gathering sufficient evidence.

“We’ve found some evidence of systematic and severe intimidation by rival candidates that took place throughout Aceh several days before the poll,” said Irwandi, who ran as an independent candidate.

“The intimidation favored certain candidates. That’s why we plan to go court to have the results annulled and hold another election,” he said.

Irwandi refused to point his finger directly at Zaini, who was officially supported by the Aceh Party — the political vehicle of former GAM combatants.

However, he indicated the perpetrators were from a party whose flag was colored in black and red, which are the Aceh Party’s typical colors.

“The alleged perpetrators intimated people to vote for number five [Zaini’s election number on the ballot card],” he said.

“They came to people’s houses on a daily basis before the election, threatening voters that there would be war in Aceh if they failed to win the election.”

Since December, Acehnese have been torn between choosing Zaini or Irwandi, leading to intimidation and a string of shootings.

But despite fears of an eruption of armed violence, as seen during the campaign, the people of Aceh witnessed a peaceful election on Monday.

Zaini, the GAM’s former foreign minister, and his running mate, Muzakir Manaf, a former GAM field commander, secured 54.4 percent of the vote, according to the Indonesia Survey Circle (LSI). Irwandi came in second with 29.88 percent.

In response to Irwandi’s allegations, Zaini said there was no evidence of violations committed by his supporters.

In his victory speech, Zaini thanked his supporters and the Aceh Party for their success in convincing people to vote for him.

“I thank all elements of the public that have trusted us to lead Aceh for the next five years,” he said.

He also thanked his campaign advisors, former local military commanders Maj. Gen. (ret.) Sunarko, Maj. Gen. (ret.) Djali Yusuf and Maj. Gen. (ret.) M. Yahya for supporting his efforts to win the election.

Before his supporters, Zaini said he would first focus on resolving all matters that were not yet implemented in the Helsinki peace accord signed in mid-2005, which marked the end of decades of bloody separatist conflict.

“There is work to be done by both local and central governments in relation to the accord,” he said.

He also said he would maintain security and peace in the province, which saw more than 17,000 people die during the conflict.

Due to a string of shootings, investors still perceive Aceh as a risky place to do business.

Analysts believed Monday’s election was a test for Aceh’s success story in overcoming the conflict and dealing with the massive post-tsunami reconstruction, mostly financed by international donors.

“Maintaining peace and security are our utmost goals. We’re committed to that at all costs. That’s why I plan to forge reconciliation with the defeated parties so that they can also contribute to Aceh’s development,” said Zaini.


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