Indonesia police identify 63 regions at risk of Covid-19 violations during Dec local polls

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

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The National Police of Indonesia have determined that 16 regions may see a potentially high number of health protocol violations during the regional elections next month.

During a Monday (Nov 23) meeting on preparations for the simultaneous regional elections, National Police Chief Idham Azis said 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.

General Idham said 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.

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, the Elections Supervisory Agency, and the Regional Leadership Communication Forum to discuss efforts to prevent widespread violations of the Covid-19 health protocols.

Mr 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 Elections Supervisory Agency recorded during the campaign stage, with crowds of barefaced supporters rallying around their candidates in public.

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.

"Time management is very important. We must remind voters to present (themselves) according to (their) invitation so as to avoid accumulation (of voters)," Minister 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 polling stations.

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