Election Watch

No foreign observers for
this year’s elections

No independent foreign observers are expected to monitor the 2014 general election, a development that is being seen as a sign of the country’s maturing democracy.

The General Elections Commission (KPU) said it had given accreditation to 19 institutions to monitor this year’s legislative and presidential elections, most of which were local NGOs.

KPU commissioner Ferry Kurnia Rizkiyansyah said there were a number of foreign observers that had applied for an accreditation, but only one had returned with a complete application.

“One foreign observer is already accredited, from Timor Leste,” Ferry told The Jakarta Post recently.

If none of the major election observers arrive for this year’s election it will be a first for the country in the post-Soeharto era. The general elections in 1999, 2004 and 2009 were monitored by many domestic and international observers.

In the 2004 elections, several foreign monitoring teams such as The Carter Center, the Washington-based National Democratic Institute and the European Union (EU) sent observers to Indonesia.

In 2004, Jimmy Carter, former US president and founder of The Carter Center, along with other leaders of monitoring teams, praised Indonesia and said that overall, the electoral process was honest and transparent.

According to the KPU’s list of accredited election observers, all of the institutions are based in Indonesia and the majority of them have their headquarters in Jakarta.

Some of the organizations include the Independent Election Monitoring Committee (KIPP), Migrant Care, the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), the Partnership for Governance Reform (Kemitraan) and the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem).

Khoirunnissa Nur Agustyati, program officer for Perludem, said her organization was one of the accredited local observers. The organization was set up by the University Network for Free and Fair Elections (Unfrel). The network was an independent local observer in 1999 election, which was also supported by international monitoring delegations.

Khoirunnisa said foreign observers could still be present on balloting day. “But, if it turns out that the number is very small, perhaps they will work together with accredited local observers,” she said.

According to Khoirunnissa, international agencies and governments believed the country could hold a fair and open election this year.

Siti Zuhro, a political researcher from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), estimated the country could better exercise its democracy in this year’s elections.

“We know there are still problems on the ground, but we hope the quality will improve in this year’s elections,” Siti said.

Previously, Rizal Ramli, a political analyst, said the KPU needed foreign observers to ensure no fraud took place in the 2014 general election.

He said the KPU deliberately made an effort not to invite international observers to the 2009 election, which had given rise to a lot of fraud. (gda)

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