Indonesia’s largest Muslim organizations, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah, have urged the government to consider delaying the upcoming regional elections amid heightened concerns over the COVID-19 crisis.
As reported on NU’s official website, the organization has called on the General Elections Commission (KPU), the government and the House of Representatives to postpone the major political event, set to take place on Dec. 9, until the health crisis has abated.
“Crowds are inevitable, regardless of stricter health protocols,” the organization said in a statement on Sunday.
Furthermore, NU said postponement was a sensible call considering the public’s penchant for festive mass campaigns ahead of the elections, which would only increase the risk of coronavirus contagion among the public.
“NU suggests that the government reallocate the elections budget to the [mitigation] of the health crisis and its real social impact on society,” the statement read.
Similarly, Muhammadiyah said in a statement on Monday that public health and safety should remain the top priority during the present emergency, given that coronavirus cases had continued to mount across the country.
“Regarding the 2020 elections, the central board of Muhammadiyah calls on the KPU to specifically reconsider [...] the elections and campaign rules that entail the gathering of many people,” the statement, signed by chairperson Haedar Nashir and general secretary Abdul Mu’ti read, emphasizing that the KPU should coordinate with the Home Ministry, the House and other related departments regarding the issue.
“For the sake of the nation’s safety and proper implementation [of the regional elections], the KPU should postpone the 2020 elections until the situation has improved.”
Muhammadiyah also urged members of the public to practice discipline and abide by the government’s COVID-19 protocols, as well as to refrain from producing and/or disseminating false information regarding the current state of affairs so as to prevent any conflicts.
“We urge every member of Muhammadiyah to comply with the central board’s instructions in regard to religious, social and education affairs, as well as other public activities,” the organization said.
The two prominent Muslim organizations also advised the public against participating in Idul Fitri mudik (exodus) earlier this year over COVID-19 concerns.
It was previously reported that the government was set to draft a regulation to restrict mass gatherings during the upcoming regional elections in an effort to prevent COVID-19 transmission.
Home Minister Tito Karnavian said he would propose either a revision to the existing KPU regulation or a specific government regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) for the matter.
Tito emphasized that COVID-19 health protocols had to be enforced not only on voting day but at all stages of the electoral process, including during campaign events.