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08JAKARTA2107 2008-11-17 08:07:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Jakarta
Cable title:  

GOI PREPARATIONS FOR 2009 ELECTIONS

Tags:   PGOV KDEM ID 
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1. (C) SUMMARY: Preparations for Indonesia's legislative
and presidential elections in 2009 are well underway. Solid
organizational progress has been made in what is an immense
undertaking slated to involve approximately 175 million
voters in this, the world's third largest democracy.



2. (C) SUMMARY (Con'd): That said, even while new laws have
augmented its mandate, the Indonesian Election Commission has
been affected by a lack of funding and other capacity-related
problems. At this point, the Commission seems to have the
situation in hand and--despite delays--is meeting targets.
There are concerns that snafus could develop, however, and
that there could be problems, especially if the elections are
close. END SUMMARY.

GETTING READY FOR 2009



3. (C) The Indonesian Election Commission (KPU) continues to
work hard to prepare for the 2009 national elections. (Note:
Legislative elections are scheduled to take place in April


2009. The first round of the presidential elections are
scheduled for July and will be followed by a second round if
necessary.) The KPU has made considerable progress preparing
for the elections. Already, party and candidate lists have
been published for the legislative elections, and the voter
lists are almost complete. Over 175 million Indonesians are
expected to vote in 2009, a figure considerably higher than
the number that voted in 2004 (the 2004 elections were
Indonesia's first set of direct elections).



4. (C) When asked about the situation during a November 14
meeting, Sri Nuryanti, a key KPU Commissioner, told Pol/C and
poloff that she was "confident" that the Commission would be
able to meet all targets. She admitted, however, that there
were challenges to overcome. (Note: Nuryanti just returned
from a USG-funded visit to the U.S. to observe our elections.
In addition to meetings in Washington, Nuryanti met with
election officials in Connecticut and spoke at Yale
University on the Indonesian electoral process.)

NEW MANDATES



5. (C) As touched on by Sri Nuryanti, the Election
Commission is facing some problems. The new electoral legal
frameworks promulgated in 2008 and earlier greatly expanded
the KPU's mandate to include administering regional as well
as national elections. The law did not increase the KPU's
capacity or funding, however. Instead, legal checks were put
in place to avoid the corruption which plagued the previous
Commission. These checks--while prudent--delay the
disbursement of funds to the KPU. Implementing these new
laws and regulations has further strained KPU,s already
limited resources (reftels).

OTHER CONCERNS



6. (C) There are other concerns. The KPU faces criticism
for frequently traveling overseas--including a trip to China
which generated widespread public derision. NGOs such as the
Election Monitoring Society criticize the KPU for missing
deadlines to publish candidate and voter lists and
inconsistent reviews of party and candidate eligibility. The
KPU has also found it difficult to resolve disputes over
regional elections.



7. (C) Missing the original target date to publish the
legislative candidate lists also gave the public less time to
scrutinize the lists and provide feedback on candidates who

JAKARTA 00002107 002.2 OF 002


might be unqualified. While the KPU did publish the list
soon after the target date, it has no legal sanctions
available to make political parties comply with the law, so
some candidates with criminal records and other problematic
backgrounds are apparently still on the lists.



8. (C) The KPU also found it difficult to finalize voter
registration lists by the legally mandated October 10
deadline, so have extended the deadline to November 24.
Millions of votes are at stake because of incomplete data.
In the recent meeting with emboffs, KPU Commissioner Sri
Nuryanti gave two reasons for the delay. First, according to
a new law, the Commission had to get population data from the
Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA) and what they received was
incomplete. Second, as of yet, the Commission has not been
able to receive voter information from the Papuan region of
eastern Indonesia and from overseas.



9. (C) Another challenge is dissemination of voter
information. Many voters are unaware that they must confirm
their registration. According to a recent poll, the majority
of voters still don't know when the legislative elections
will be held. They are also unaware of changes in the
election law. KPU Commissioner Sri Nuryanti explained that
the Commission hopes to correct this when it releases its new
public service announcements and fliers (done through the
USG-funded International Foundation for Elections).

WORKING TO MEET THE CHALLENGES



10. (C) Since the fall of Suharto in 1998, Indonesian
democracy has flowered spectacularly. But there are some
administrative problems and the KPU seems to be making a
solid effort to address them. It is well aware of the
problems stemming from the complicated new electoral
framework, and it is trying to improve cooperation and
coordination within the government in order to facilitate the
process.



11. (C) Despite the concerns, there is confidence. The
KPU--and the vast majority of observers--believe that the
upcoming elections will be free, fair and credible. Polls
indicate that the public shares this confidence. That said,
various snafus could take place in the run up to the
elections and on Election Day. If the elections are very
close, then there could be problems as candidates challenge
the process.

HUME