Close election in Bali erupts in violence
Ni Komang Erviani and I Wayan Juniarta
The Jakarta Post
Tension between supporters of the competing candidates in the Bali gubernatorial election escalated to new heights Thursday night when a violent clash erupted in Pekambingan subdistrict in Denpasar leaving one man severely injured, while local police in Buleleng came out in full force to prevent a major clash in Bungkulan village, the home of one of the deputy governor candidates.
The election is a head-to-head 'battle' placing AA Ngurah Puspayoga and his running mate Dewa Sukrawan, who are endorsed by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), against incumbent governor Made Mangku Pastika and Ketut Sudikerta, who are supported by a coalition of nine political parties, including the Golkar and the Democratic parties.
Details on the clash in Pekam-bingan were still sketchy but it was reported that a volunteer for the Pastika-Sudikerta campaign was assaulted and severely injured by a man wielding a sword.
The witnesses believed that the attack could have been triggered by the fact that the PDI-P-endorsed candidates were defeated at a ballot station in the area. The police have yet to issue any formal announcement tying the attacker to PDI-P or showing the incident was truly triggered by the election.
The victim was identified as Gede Pasek Bandana Negara, 21, and the attacker as Agus Bagiada. The victim was rushed to the Army hospital on Jl. Sudirman for treatment, while the attacker was apprehended by the victim's friends and turned over to the police.
'The incident took place at 9 p.m. when we are sitting in Pekambingan community hall. The attacker came on a motorbike and immediately attacked Bandana Putra,' the victim's older brother, Gusman Rahina
One hour later Governor Pastika and Udayana Military Command chief Maj. Gen. Wisnu Bawa Temaja visited the victim.
'It is a very regrettable incident and all parties should exercise restraint. All parties should be able to accept the results of the election,' Pastika said.
In Buleleng, where the PDI-P candidates suffered a humiliating defeat despite the fact that the regency had long been known as the bastion of the party, hundreds of riot police and the elite Mobile Brigade were dispatched to Bungkulan, the home village of Sukrawan, following a report that crowds had gathered at Sukrawan's house and the house of the local leader, who supports Pastika.
By 11 p.m. the police had managed to defuse the tension.
'It was triggered by different rumors: one says that Sukrawan was mobbed and killed by Pastika's supporters, another one claims that Sukrawan will attack the local leader's house,' Buleleng Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Beny Ardjanto said.
Buleleng and Tabanan, another traditional bastion of PDI-P, had been identified as the main 'hot-zone' in the election. Fortunately, the police forces in those two regencies are led by senior officers known for their firm leadership and good rapport with local leaders.
In the last two months, Ardjanto and Tabanan Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Dekananto Eko Purwono had met local leaders and traditional figures to ensure that the gubernatorial election would run smoothly.
On Thursday, as the two competing camps of gubernatorial candidates tried to win public opinion by touting what they claimed as 'field data' to support their respective claims of victory, local police across the island beefed up security to prevent any possible clashes.
'We have already anticipated the possibility of horizontal conflict, especially in the period immediately following the announcement of the winner. We are glad that the campaign period and election day went peacefully. We hope the peaceful condition will continue until the end of the process, ' Ardjanto said.
Overall, the Bali Police deployed 7,500 personnel during election day. The number could be increased to 12,000, if deemed necessary.
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