Dozens of ex-graft convicts to run in Indonesia elections

A woman scrutinises a list of Regional Representatives Council candidates at the General Elections Commission. PHOTO: THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

JAKARTA (AFP) - Dozens of Indonesians who served jail time for corruption are set to run for public office, the country's electoral agency said on Friday (Sept 21) ahead of the world's largest Muslim-majority nation kicking off campaigning at the weekend.

The ex-convicts are among more than 8,000 people vying for seats in Parliament and regional councils, with 186 million registered voters eligible to cast a ballot in national polls on April 17.

Election campaigning starts on Sunday.

The Supreme Court had ruled last week that 38 people previously convicted of graft could run for office, despite their criminal records.

The decision came after Indonesia's electoral agency tried to block their eligibility.

"We were actually against this, but since the Supreme Court gave them the green light to run, there's nothing we can do," General Elections Commission head Arief Budiman told AFP on Friday.

Voters must have access to details of candidates' criminal records so they can make an informed decision, said Ms Titi Anggraini, executive director of pro-democracy group Perludem.

"The election commission should be transparent - upload the candidate's life history on their website so everybody knows. But so far, they haven't done this," she said.

In July, Mr Tommy Suharto, the youngest son of late Indonesian dictator Suharto, said that he planned to run for a seat in Parliament despite being convicted in 2002 of ordering the assassination of a Supreme Court judge who convicted him of corruption.

And ex-parliamentary speaker Setya Novanto was jailed this year for taking millions of dollars in kickbacks and bribes.

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