The Jakarta Post
The campaign team of presidential candidate Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo has demanded that the Indonesian Military (TNI) suspend the operation of its village supervisory non-commissioned officers (Babinsa) ahead of the presidential election.
The demand was made following allegations that Babinsa officers have been going door-to-door and asking residents to vote for rival candidate, Prabowo Subianto, a former commander of the Army's Special Forces (Kopassus).
'It would be better for the TNI commander to temporarily freeze the Babinsa and Babinkamtibmas [village-assigned police officers who act as advisers on security and public order] operations,' Jokowi's campaign team chairman, Tjahjo Kumolo, told reporters on Saturday.
Tjahjo said Jokowi's team would speak with TNI commander Gen. Moeldoko and National Police chief Gen. Sutarman concerning its request. 'This is our position,' he said, adding that the recent allegation undermined the TNI's credibility.
Also on Saturday, Jokowi called on the Elections Monitoring Agency (Bawaslu) to thoroughly investigate the allegation.
'We have asked [Bawaslu] to prioritize this [inquiry] so that our political rights and the political rights of the people are protected,' he said.
The allegation against the Babinsa first emerged on a social media site on Thursday. Media reports said that early on Tuesday, a resident from a predominantly Chinese neighborhood in Central Jakarta was visited by a man claiming to be a Babinsa officer who said he had been assigned to verify data of eligible voters in the neighborhood. It was later alleged that the officer was in fact registering the intention of locals in the area to vote for Prabowo.
Bawaslu said it would be summoning Gen. Moeldoko on Monday concerning the allegation, while Bawaslu member Daniel Zuchron said his office was taking the case seriously as the military had to maintain its neutrality throughout the election period.
The incident surfaced only a few days after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had warned several military and police generals, who had been approached by political parties to gain their support in the upcoming election, to steer clear of politics.
It is believed that the illegal campaigning by Babinsa for Prabowo has not been confined to Jakarta. Seknas Jokowi, a volunteer support organization for Jokowi, has accused several Babinsa officers in Gunungkidul, Yogyakarta, of distributing to locals campaign paraphernalia in support of Prabowo.
Prabowo's campaign team has denied any involvement in the alleged incident, which it said had discredited its candidate.
Separately, after a campaign visit to Bekasi, West Java, Prabowo's running mate, Hatta Rajasa, said he believed that the TNI was a professional institution. 'I am confident that the TNI will maintain its neutrality,' Hatta was reported by Antara news agency as saying.
Former TNI commander Djoko Santoso, who is a Prabowo supporter, has called for a thorough investigation. 'If the allegations are true, firm action must be taken. But don't slander [the TNI] because it will divide us. And that's not good,' he said as quoted by Antara.
Bawaslu, meanwhile, has cleared Jokowi of committing a campaign violation after questioning him on Saturday. 'What he did does not meet the criteria of campaigning as stipulated in Article 1 of the 2008 Presidential Election Law,' Bawaslu commissioner Nelson Simanjuntak said.
Jokowi was accused of early campaigning during the drawing of his ballot number last week. In his speech, after drawing the number '2', Jokowi said two was a number of balance, and that people should vote for him and his running mate, Jusuf Kalla.
He claimed he had no intention to get a head start before the campaign period officially began. He said his words were spontaneous; they were not part of a pre-written, prepared speech. 'Just look at the context; I did not address [our campaign's] vision, mission or programs,' Jokowi added.
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