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Inconsistent Law Enforcers

A variety of problems have surfaced during the elections for regional heads. Interestingly, only one is in court: the Depok case.

AS of June 2005, there have been 166 direct elections of regional heads, either to elect mayors, regents or governors. None however have been as sensational as the election of the mayor of Depok, West Java. The rivalry between the Nurmahmudi Ismail-Yuyun Wirasaputra duet and Badrul Kamal-Syihabuddin Ahmad duet has even reached the level of the Supreme Court (MA), even though the Law on Regional Government states that the resolution of disputes over the election of regional heads are final at one judicial level: The high court for the election of mayors and regents and the Supreme Court for governors.

Of course disputes over the election of district head are not exclusively over the issue of the vote count. Based on the Independent Election Monitoring Committee's (KIPP) records, there are two types of issues that have been the source of disputes. Firstly, the issue of the stages of the elections. Secondly, the issue of determining the result. "Most have precisely been during the [elections] stages, not the determination [of the result]," says former KIPP chairperson Ray Rangkuti.

Many political parties have reported the Regional General Election Commissions (KPUD) to the State Administrative Court (PTUN) because they felt they were treated adversely during the nomination of candidates. KIPP has noted at least 20 such cases. "The majority of parties have won in the PTUN. Only in two cases did the KPUD win," says Ray. Unfortunately, the majority of these decisions are not implemented by the KPUD. One of the districts where the KPUD did acceded to a PTUN decision was Mentawai, West Sumatra. After loosing in the PTUN, the KPUD finally reopened registration for candidates for the regent.

The second kind of dispute is over the determination of candidates--as occurred for example in the Musi Rawas regency of South Sumatra. The H.M. Syarif Hidayat-Sumarmo duet--a pair of candidates for regent and deputy-regent that felt adversely treated--believe that in making its decision the panel of judges in the South Sumatra High Court were inconsistent or there was a contradiction between the legal considerations and the decision's injunction. Syarif has reported the panel of judges that heard the case to the Judicial Commission on August 31.

An identical case surfaced in the East Kotawaringin regency of Central Kalimantan. Victory by the Wahyudi Kaspul Anwar-Amrulah Hadi duet was blocked because the Thamrin Noor-Muhlan Sapri duet supported by the Golkar Party and the Didik Salmijardi-Gohard Nion duet supported by the Democrat Party challenged the election result as they considered it fraudulent.

The election of the district head in West Nusa Tenggara was embroiled up in a similar case. During the election of the mayor of Mataram, the Lalu Bakri-Ari Wiryawan Harun Al Rasyid duet sued the Mataram KPUD because they believed the election was not organized properly. In Taliwang, West Sumbawa Regency, the victory by the Zulkifli Muhadli-Mala Rahman duet was also prevented because of a legal challenge by their opponents. In Greater Sumbawa, Sumbawa Regency, a victory of the Jamaludin Malik-Abdul Jabir duet was challenged by the Wahid Salim-Syamsuddin Anwar duet after a dispute over the vote count.

According to Ray, there are quite a lot of disputes over the determination of the vote count. The majority however are unable to be brought before the courts. "The majority of disputes fail because there are considered not to have fulfilled the requirements to be contended [in court]," he says.

The upshot of all this says Ray, is that the loosing candidate ends up reporting the judge to the Judicial Commission. This is the trendy move because if they launch a suit against over the material basis for the KPUD's decision, 90 percent will loose. "All suits in elections, the executive, and election of district heads, against the KPUD's decision will loose, because it is very difficult to prove the disappearance of votes," he added.

Home Affairs Minister M. Ma'ruf admits that there are many problems in the direct election of regional heads. "Because it's something new. If there are problems here and there, I think it's still natural," he says. According to Ma'ruf, out of the 166 district elections that have taken place since June 2005, only 12 percent have been problematic.

In the eyes' of Ryaas Rasyid, there are two root problems in the election of regional heads--the Law on Regional Government and inconsistency in the legal institutions. Law No. 32/2004 according to Ryaas, is so far as adopting the principles that are in effect for presidential and legislative elections, which states that election disputes can only be resolved at one judicial level. "It's not open to other legal undertakings," he says.

With regard to the inconsistency of the legal institutions, he points to the Supreme Court accepting a judicial review of a case that according to law is final. Ryaas hopes that there will soon be an evaluation on the regional heads election. "If indeed the roots of the problem lie there, the laws [should be] revised. If it is a problem of consistency in the enforcement of the law, the Supreme Court must be reformed," he says.

Abdul Manan, Thoso Priharnowo, Sunudyantoro

TEMPO, JANUARY 16, 2006-019/P. 37 Heading Cover Story


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