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Jakarta Post

Police identify 63 regions at risk of COVID-19 violations during local polls

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, November 24, 2020   /   01:58 pm
Police identify 63 regions at risk of COVID-19 violations during local polls An election worker arranges stacks of bound ballot papers for the 2020 Makassar regional elections on Nov. 24, 2020 at the Celebes Convention Center in Makassar, South Sulawesi. (Antara/Arnas Padda)

The National Police have determined that 16 regions may see a potentially high number of health protocol violations during the  regional elections next month.

National Police chief Gen. Idham Azis said on Monday during a meeting on preparations for the simultaneous regional elections that all nine provinces holding a gubernatorial election were deemed “vulnerable” to COVID-19 health protocol violations, as reported by antaranews.com.

The nine provinces are West Sumatra, Riau Islands, Jambi, Bengkulu, North Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, South Kalimantan, North Sulawesi and Central Sulawesi.

As for the municipal elections, three out of the 37 cities scheduled to hold local polls were deemed vulnerable to potential public health violations: Sibolga in North Sumatra, South Tangerang in Banten and Ternate in Maluku.

Meanwhile, among the 224 regencies due to hold their elections, 35 were deemed vulnerable to public health violations, while 16 others were categorized as “extremely vulnerable”.

The identified regencies include Agam, Asmat, Fakfak, Gunung Kidul, Nabire, North Buton, South Nias, Tojo Una-Una Waropen and Yalimo.

Idham said that the National Police would adjust their contingency measures for each voting stage according to the region’s “level of vulnerability”. He said the police force had readied an additional 3,100 members of its Mobile Brigade unit for deploying to several regions to assist in the smooth running of the local elections.

Read also: Regional elections: Between democracy and people's lives

Governor Ali Mazi of Southeast Sulawesi province, where some regencies were set to hold the polls, said that his administration would coordinate with related stakeholders like the General Elections Commission (KPU), the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) and the Regional Leadership Communication Forum (Forkopimda) to discuss efforts to prevent widespread violations of the COVID-19 health protocols.

Ali added that all local authorities would follow the required rules and procedures during the elections, but pointed out that the supporters of individual candidates might pose a challenge in upholding the health protocols.

The simultaneous regional elections slated for Dec. 9 involves nine provinces, 224 regencies and 37 municipalities, or a total of 270 regions across the country.

The government has insisted on proceeding with the regional elections despite the unabating increase in coronavirus cases and warnings from health experts over the possible emergence of new clusters across the electoral process, from campaigns to voting day and on through the vote counting.

The concerns were raised specifically in response to the widespread violations the Bawaslu recorded during the campaign stage, with crowds of barefaced supporters rallying around their candidates in public.

Read also: Dynastic political showdown rocks one of Indonesia's fastest growing cities

Home Minister Tito Karnavian has urged voters to return home immediately after voting in order to prevent large masses of people gathering at the polling stations (TPS).

“Time management is very important. We must remind voters to present [themselves] according to [their] invitation so as to avoid accumulation [of voters],” Tito said on Tuesday as reported by kompas.com.

“Immediately after voting, they must all go home,” he said, stressing that only election officials were permitted to remain at the TPS.