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Indonesia - general election

President's party ahead, violence in Papua

Article published on the 2009-04-09 Latest update 2009-04-10 09:41 TU

Police detain a suspect in Jayapura, Papua(Photo: Reuters)

Police detain a suspect in Jayapura, Papua
(Photo: Reuters)

The Democratic Party of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was ahead in Thursday's general election, according to sample polls of voters. The vote was peaceful in most of the vast country but overnight violence in the restive province of Papua left five dead, according to police.

The Democrats won 18.5 per cent of the vote, according to sampling by the Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI). It was followed by Golkar, the reformed party of former military ruler Suharto, with 15.89 per cent and the main opposition party, the Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) with 15.39 per cent.

Badui tribe people wait in line to vote at a polling station at Kanekes village on the outskirts of Lebak regency, Indonesia's Banten province(Photo: Reuters)

Badui tribe people wait in line to vote at a polling station at Kanekes village on the outskirts of Lebak regency, Indonesia's Banten province
(Photo: Reuters)

The survey based itself on a partial count on 2,100 polling stations. But that is a tiny fraction of the country's 500,000-plus stations.

Forty-four parties were competing for the 171 million voters' support in the third general election since the end of Suharto's rule in 1998.

The dozen or so religious parties were expected to see a drop in their vote, because of voters' concern over the economy, a subject which is not seen as their strong point.  

Wimar Witoelaar, who was a controversial talkshow host at the end of Suharto'sb rein and went on to work with former President Abdurrahman Wahid, thinks the poll has been a success.

"It hasn’t always been like this," he told RFI. "Election days used to be here during the Suharto days but they were days of intimidation and terror. Now it’s almost like a holiday."

Comment: Former Presidential spokesperson Wimar Witoelaar

09/04/2009 by Salil Sarkar

But Witoelaar fears that the result may be disappointing.

"We have a system of democracy which has worked for the third time in national elections but it hasn’t generated any ideas, any leaders, as yet," he says, adding, "But it has generated an increasingly intelligent public."

Voting on Thursday left queues of people when polls closed at midday but electoral officials said that those still queuing at close of polling would be able to cast their ballots.

A man was killed in Papua when, according to police, a crowd of 100 armed with bows and arrows attacked a police station. Papua's Police Chief, Bagus Eko Danto, says calls for Papuan independence and violent incidents were aimed at "sabotaging" the elections.

Rights groups say that nine people were shot by security forces on Monday during protests ahead of the poll. That followed last week's reports of one man killed and arrests at rallies in the province, where there has been a long-running armed rebellion against Jakarta-rule.

The Institute for Papuan Advocacy and Human Rights gives the names of nine people alleged to have been shot by security forces during a pro-independence protest in the Nabire area on Monday.

The group's Paula Makabory, who is based in Mebourne, accuses snipers from the security forces of firing on a camp of activists calling for an election boycott and a referendum on Indonesian control of the area.

Comment: Paula Makabory of Institute for Papuan Advocacy and Human Rights

09/04/2009 by Salil Sarkar

Separate incidents left three non-Papuan motorcycle-taxi drivers dead in the Papuan highland town of Wamena after they were stabbed. A four-year-old child died when a fuel depot caught fire.

Voting in Aceh province went ahead peacefully, despite the shooting of five former members of the separatist Free Aceh Movement (Gam) in recent months. The government reached a peace deal with the Gam in 2005 after a long war, which saw accusations of collusion with repression by western companies.