President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has doubled down on his message for election organizers to enforce strict health protocols in the lead-up to and on the day of simultaneous regional elections in December so as to avoid COVID-19 transmission during the major political event.
“The safety and health of the public is everything, so enforcing health protocols is non-negotiable,” Jokowi said during his address in a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
He particularly called for all election stakeholders, including the General Elections Commission (KPU) and Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu), as well as the police, the military, law enforcers and government officials to help promote, enforce and follow the strict health protocols.
The President also urged activists, scholars, religious communities and customary figures in all regions to help support the government’s efforts to prevent coronavirus transmission during the election season.
Jokowi said he grew concerned over the issue after witnessing a number of health protocol violations during the election preparation, including a pair who he claimed to have held a public concert to announce their candidacy.
On Sunday, a video of a concert reportedly held by a pair of candidates running for the top seat in Pohuwato regency in Gorontalo began circulating on social media, showing thousands attending the show despite concerns of COVID-19 transmission.
“This kind of situation cannot be tolerated," Jokowi said.
"The election must continue, they cannot wait for the pandemic to end because we don't know [and] no country has any idea when this pandemic will end. Therefore, the election must be carried out in a new way, with a ‘new normal’."
The President further urged all stakeholders to maintain the quality of Indonesia’s democracy, warning against the use of identity politics that could threaten the country’s unity. He also demanded that all election organizers and state officials maintain neutrality.
The KPU concluded on Sunday the registration for candidates running for regional head posts in 270 regions of the country, including nine provinces, 224 regencies and 37 municipalities. Voting will take place on Dec. 9, and it will be the first election to be held in the country amid an ongoing pandemic.