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Pre-Election Statement on Indonesia Elections, June 25, 2004


CONTACT: Eric Bjornlund
In Jakarta, (62-21) 383-5153

Kay Torrance
In Atlanta, 404-420-5129

In support of Indonesia's ongoing process of democratization and political reform, The Carter Center is pleased to witness the historic 2004 election, when Indonesian voters for the first time will directly choose their president. The Carter Center, which observed the 1999 national elections, was invited by the Election Commission (KPU) and welcomed by all major political parties. In late April, the Center deployed 10 long-term observers across the country to monitor the electoral process. For the July 5 presidential elections, the Center is bringing 50 additional short-term observers to join the mission which will be led by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, his wife, Rosalynn, and former Prime Minister of Thailand Chuan Leekpai.

We congratulate Indonesia on the successful legislative elections held on April 5, 2004. We note the peaceful atmosphere that prevailed during those elections has continued into presidential campaigning, which began June 1. Carter Center long-term observers heard relatively few concerns about administrative preparations, and found that the registration process generally worked well and that the KPU is on track to distribute materials on schedule. The Carter Center mission expresses its support to all Indonesians as they exercise their democratic rights in the July 5 election.

While the Center is encouraged by its observations so far, the mission heard concerns from Indonesians about the following issues:

KPU and Panwas

As in previous elections, the Elections Supervisory Committee, or Panwas, has been appointed to supervise elections, receive complaints, resolve disputes, and refer complaints as appropriate to the KPU, police, or other government departments.

The public dispute in recent weeks between the KPU and Panwas over the extent of Panwas' powers is unfortunate. We understand that Panwas reported having difficulty during the April elections in obtaining important information from lower level KPUs. Panwas also reportedly has criticized KPU's failure to act on alleged administrative violations of the election law referred by Panwas. We also understand that KPU has sometimes criticized the performance of Panwas and that the election law gives the KPU ultimate authority over Panwas, including its establishment and dissolution.

KPU has proposed substantial changes to its decree on Panwas' role and responsibilities. The revised decree would empower Panwas only to resolve disputes between electoral contestants; it would have no authority to handle issues between KPU and the candidates.

While it is not the Center's role to assess conflicting interpretations of the law, we believe it is important to have an effective, timely mechanism for resolution of disputes, including those between candidates and the KPU. We hope the KPU and Panwas will resolve their differences without hampering public confidence in the handling and resolving of election-related complaints.

Perceptions of "Money Politics"

We have heard concerns from representatives of political parties, campaign teams, Panwas, and civil society throughout the country about "money politics," or the illegitimate use and influence of money in the campaign. Our observers report that there appears to be no common understanding of what "money politics" means, and there is much confusion about what uses of funds are illegal. Nevertheless, suspicions about vote buying and improper use of money in the campaign are widespread.

Threats to Freedom of Expression of Civil Society Organizations

We are concerned about the implications of statements by the heads of the National Intelligence Agency and the National Police that they are monitoring some 20 local and international nongovernmental organizations they believe threaten Indonesia's security. Such statements, together with the expulsion of Sidney Jones, Indonesia director of the International Crisis Group and a prominent human rights researcher, are inconsistent with rights of free expression that are fundamental in a democratic society and could have a chilling effect on civil society.

Freedom of Association and Campaigning in Certain Regions

Given the current state of civil emergency in Aceh and the recent violence in certain other parts of the country, we urge the responsible authorities to maintain security and promote a peaceful environment in which all candidates, campaign teams, and citizens are free to exercise their democratic rights. We hope that national and international election observers, diplomats, and journalists will be able to travel to and report on the election process in all regions of the country.

The Carter Center Election Observation Mission

In late April, a team of 10 long-term Carter Center observers began monitoring the political environment, election preparations, and the political party campaigns. They have observed in 23 provinces in Sumatra, Sulawesi, Java, Bali and Kalimantan. In addition, the Center has a core team in Jakarta. In Jakarta and throughout the country, observers met with representatives of the political parties, the KPU, the Panwas, domestic and international election observers, civil society organizations, media, and the international community at large.

For the July 5 election, 60 international observers representing eight countries will be deployed to 20 provinces, both in urban and rural areas. They will witness poll openings, balloting, and initial stages of vote counting. President Carter and Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai will offer a preliminary assessment of the election process on behalf of the delegation. The Carter Center's long-term observers will continue their assessments after election day through the Sept. 20 runoff election, if one is held.

Democracy in Action:
Indonesia, The Carter Center, and the July 5 elections Click to learn more


The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former US President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide. A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, the Center has helped to improve life for people in more than 65 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; improving mental health care; and teaching farmers to increase crop production. Visit to learn more about The Carter Center.

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