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Postelection Statement on Indonesia Elections, Aug. 2, 2004


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

Kay Torrance
In Atlanta, 404-420-5129

In support of Indonesia's ongoing democratization and political reform, The Carter Center is continuing to monitor this election, as Indonesian voters for the first time directly choose their president. The Carter Center was invited by the election commission (KPU) and welcomed by all major political parties.

Since April, the Center has maintained an office in Indonesia and deployed long-term observers across the country. In Jakarta and 25 provinces around the country, the Center's observers have met with representatives of political parties and candidates, government and election officials, journalists, police, domestic election monitoring groups, religious organizations, and other civil society groups. The Center issued June 25 a statement that commented on pre-election issues and the conduct of the campaign. On July 5, under the leadership of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Rosalynn Carter, and former Prime Minister of Thailand Chuan Leekpai, the Center deployed 60 international observers. The delegation issued its statement, the Center's second statement, July 7. Since the first round of the election, the Center has monitored the vote tabulation process at the village, subdistrict (kecematan), district (kabupaten/kota), provincial, and national levels. They have investigated election complaints around the country and have continued to meet with KPU and Panwas officials, candidate representatives, nongovernmental organizations, and others.

Vote Tabulation

The KPU announced July 26 the official vote tabulation. As had been expected-based on the KPU's unofficial results reported at the national tabulation center and the quick count of several nongovernmental groups-the ticket of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Jusuf Kalla won the most votes, and Megawati Soekarnoputri and Hasyim Muzadi came in second. Unless the Constitutional Court overturns these results, these two tickets will compete in a runoff election Sept. 20.

We commend both the winners and losers of the first round of the presidential election for fostering a peaceful environment and for those with complaints, indicating their intention to access the Constitutional Court. We have not heard of any significant conflicts between supporters of different parties in Jakarta or in the provinces. Our observers have noted in some places around the country that losing parties, rather than complaining of manipulation or accusing their opponents of foul play, have been reflective about their losses.

Unfortunately, on July 26, a small explosion in the KPU headquarters in Jakarta marred the final national tabulation. While no one was injured, the explosion served as a reminder of the threat of violence that has continued to plague the country.

Rechecking Invalid Ballots

As is now well known, many voters did not unfold ballot papers completely and in casting their votes, inadvertently punched their ballots twice. The KPU attempted on election day to address the large number of ballots initially classified as invalid, but this problem could have been avoided with better planning and more timely training of polling officials and voters.

In response, the KPU issued three separate directives. Not all polling stations received or followed the KPU's initial directive on election day to review and validate certain double-punched ballots. In a second instruction, the KPU directed village election committees (PPS) to recheck invalid ballots. Although there was initial resistance in some locations, in some cases because PPS officials were being asked to do additional work without additional compensation, it appears PPS officials in most locations ultimately did conduct such reviews. Only the ballot papers determined to be invalid from each polling station were supposed to be recounted.

Judging from the Center's observations and interviews with electoral officials and other observers, tabulations in most locations were well organized and conducted openly. Unfortunately, the presence of candidate witnesses and domestic observers was uneven during the rechecking of ballots at the village level and above.

Electoral Commission Changes Rules Governing Elections Supervisory Committee

Pre-existing tensions between the KPU and the Elections Supervisory Committee (Panwas) intensified after the election when the KPU enacted new restrictions on Panwas. On July 8, the KPU issued Decree 42, establishing new procedures for investigating and reporting violations, including a new requirement to report alleged violations to local KPU officials prior to review for further investigation. The new decree also prohibits Panwas from considering disputes between the KPU and third parties. In response to criticism, the KPU softened the decree to require only consultation with, rather than prior approval of, the KPU before Panwas refers complaints to the police.

Nevertheless, Panwas has rejected the KPU decree on the grounds it will severely hinder its independence and significantly interfere with the dispute resolution process. On July 12, pending judicial review of the new decree, Panwas instructed its field offices to ignore the new decree and continue to apply the pre-existing rules. Panwas has requested that the supreme court invalidate the new decree on the grounds it contradicts the election law because it unlawfully restricts Panwas' ability to quickly respond to and report on electoral complaints The election law, though, gives the KPU ultimate authority over Panwas, including its establishment and dissolution. The tension between the national KPU and Panwas is regrettable since both institutions, in the view of many political observers, have functioned reasonably well.

While it is not the Center's role to assess interpretations of the law, 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 resolution of election-related complaints.

Rejection of Candidacy Based on Physical Ability

The KPU rejected the candidacy of former President Abdurrahman Wahid on the grounds that he is medically unfit, as he has suffered a series of strokes and is nearly blind. While the Center does not question the legality or factual basis of the KPU decision, we are concerned about any provision or policy that takes judgments about presidential candidates' qualifications out of the hands of the voters or that discriminates on the basis of a physical disability. International standards stipulate such provisions should be interpreted narrowly.

Problems with Election-Day Manipulation in Particular Locations

There were significant problems with manipulation of the election process on election day in a few specific locations.

Shortly after election day, Panwas reported a dramatic increase in the number of voters since the April legislative elections at polling stations surrounding Al-Zaytun, a large Islamic boarding school located in Indramayu in the province of West Java. More than 20,000 new voters reportedly arrived from South Jakarta, some in buses from Jakarta's military headquarters driven by active members of the military. Almost all of the votes from the school's 83 polling stations favored Golkar candidate Wiranto.

After a lengthy debate between KPU and Panwas officials at the national and provincial levels, the KPU on July 16 found the mobilization of voters to be in violation of election laws. The KPU ordered a repeat election for the Al-Zaytun polling stations with the participation of only the 4,674 registered voters who reside in the area. This decision demonstrated the commitment of the KPU and Panwas to protecting the integrity of the electoral process. The military commander stripped the rank of the lieutenant colonel responsible for transporting the voters. As of yet, no charges have been brought against anyone for the violation.

The KPU held the repeat election July 25, but not a single person voted. This means all 24,000-plus votes cast July 5 have officially been considered invalid. We hope the authorities will be able to determine whether local voters were intimidated into boycotting the revote.

Other significant violations occurred in Tawao, Malaysia, one of a number of polling stations established for Indonesians abroad, and in Mimika, Papua. In Tawao, media reports claimed that a consular official, who served as a local election official, prepunched approximately 8,000 votes. In Mimika, election officials are suspected of prepunching approximately 4,000 votes. In both cases, the fraudulent ballots were cast for Yudhoyono. According to KPU officials, repeat elections have been held in both locations.

Campaign Period for Second Round

As the two presidential tickets prepare for the second round of voting, an important aspect of the presidential election law regarding the campaign period remains unclear. The law states in the event of a second round, the two remaining candidate pairs "may improve their vision, mission and program, under the regulation and facilitation of the KPU" (Law No 23/2003, Art. 35(9)). The official elucidation of the law directs the KPU to regulate that this process "be no longer than 3 (three) days, for which funding is given by the KPU." The KPU has set the campaign period for Sept. 14-16, during which each candidate will campaign according to a debate format specified by the KPU. Although the KPU plans to meet with representatives of both campaigns to discuss rules for the campaign period, KPU officials so far have denied the two candidates the right to conduct public rallies or to advertise in the media.

Such a highly restricted and structured campaign would appear to infringe the rights of free speech of the candidates and their supporters and is inconsistent with international practice and standards. Consistent with the goal of encouraging candidates to "improve their vision, mission and program," the election law should be interpreted as broadly as possible to allow freedom to campaign, along with a full and open political debate.

The Carter Center will continue to observe developments as Indonesia prepares for the September election.


The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. 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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