Shorten local election process to reduce COVID-19 risk: academician

Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara (NT The preparations and stages of the 2020 simultaneous regional head elections (Pilkada) need to be curtailed in view of the COVID-19 pandemic to reduce the risk to public health, an academician said on Monday.

“The process and stages of the Pilkada can be shortened as an option in the current emergency situation,” Ahmad Atang, an academician at the University of Muhammadiyah, told ANTARA here on Monday.

According to him, organizing regional head elections in the midst of the COVID-19 epidemic poses a dilemma.

On the one hand, no one can guarantee when COVID-19 will end, so the fate of the elections is uncertain, he noted.

On the other hand, no one can guarantee that while holding the regional elections, the community can be kept safe from the threat of COVID-19, he observed.

Furthermore, lately, COVID-19 transmissions have increased significantly nationwide, including in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), he said.

"If this is considered a situation that endangers the community, the discourse on postponing the election needs to be studied to ensure the safety of the people," he said, referring to suggestions that this year's Pilkada be postponed once again due to the pandemic.

However, if the Pilkada is conducted according to the agenda and stages, it is necessary to tighten the enforcement of health protocols, he stated.

The government and administrators must formulate a mechanism that ensures the democratic process runs smoothly without risk to public health, he stressed.

Given the current emergency situation, the Pilkada processes and stages must be curtailed, he advised.

"We still have two months to monitor the spread of COVID and formulate anticipatory steps, if the regional elections continue (as scheduled) in December," he added.

In the meantime, even as Indonesia prepares to hold the Pilkada in 270 regions on December 9, 2020, the number of COVID-19 cases has shot up significantly.

Those infected included prospective Pilkada candidates, commissioners, and staff from the central and local KPU, as well as the local Bawaslu (election supervisory board).

Commissioner of the central KPU, Evi Novida Ginting Manik, in Jakarta has tested positive for COVID-19.

In Boyolali, Central Java, 69 KPU officers have been infected with COVID-19.

In Papua, a member of the local KPU has contracted the virus.

In East Barito district of Central Kalimantan, head of the local election supervisory office (Bawaslu), identified as F, 37, and a member of the local election office (KPU), identified as Z, 44, have tested positive for COVID-19 for the second time.

Hence, the Regional Representatives Councils (DPDs) Committee I has reiterated its objection to the 2020 Pilkada on the grounds that new COVID-19 clusters would arise if it is held as scheduled.

The committee has urged the government to put the elections on hold.

Chief of Committee I of DPD, Fachrul Razi, on Saturday (September 12, 2020) had described as "irrational" the elections that had entered the campaign period last week after the registration of candidates, since the ‘fiesta of democracy’ may lead to new clusters of COVID-19.

"One of (the regional) KPU (General Election Commission) members was exposed to COVID-19. Earlier, 21 employees of (the central) KPU also contracted the virus. In Boyolali (Central Java), the health office confirmed that 70 election supervisory officers had tested positive for COVID-19," he noted in a press statement. (INE)

Source: Antara News

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