Chaos in Yalimo after the constitutional court verdict

Pendukung pasangan calon Erdi Dabi-John W Wilil menyampaikan tuntutan di hadapan Kapolda Papua, Mathius D. Fakhiri di Distrik Elelim, Yalimo, Papua, Senin, 5 Juli 2021. Foto: Bawaslu Yalimo

Just five minutes after the Constitutional Court read out the verdict number 145/PHP.BUP-XIX/2021 which disqualify one of the candidates Yalimo Regent, Papua, hundred of the Erdi Dabi-John Wilil supporters rushed towards the local general commission election (KPU) and the election supervisor agency, on Tuesday, June 29, 2021.

They were unhappy with the decision of the Constitutional Court then burned down the two regional head election administration offices and six other buildings, namely the integrated law enforcement, local parliaments, health agencies, community and family empowerment agency, transportation agency, and the Bank of Papua.

One of the witnesses, Ruth Sambob sees how the horrific situation at the time in Yalimo. “Plumes of smoke is everywhere,” said Ruth when contacted by by telephone, on Tuesday, July 5, 2021.

The situation is getting hotter according to Her when a mass down the shop complexes of the street along the Yalimo Town. At least, there are 126 shops and 115 motorcycles & cars was burning down. The riot also briefly closed public transportation access to and from the airport closed. “Currently the situation is still warm, not yet calm so it is not yet safe,” she said.

The mass riots affected thousands of residents fleeing to several locations. The two evacuation sites in Yalimo are located at the Elelim Military District Sector and the Yalimo Police Station. In fact, it is not a few of the residents of Yalimo who choose to run until the border of Jayawijaya and the Wamena district. The number of refugees scattered into several locations in Elelim, the capital of the district reached1210 people. “I choose my self not evacuate”, said Ruth whose prefer self-isolated into her home this week.

Ruth did not expect that the five-year democracy festival will lead to chaos in her area. Even though a decades stay at Yalimo, Ruth has never seen massive riots that happen like on the Tuesday until last Wednesday on June 30, 2021. “This is the first time this has happened,” She said. The incident makes Ruth hesitate to use her voter’s rights for re-elections.

The head of public relations of the Police of the Papua, Senior Commissioner Police Ahmad Mustafa Kamal, ensured that the security condition of Yalimo was condusive now. Road access and public transportation started to operate normally. Meanwhile, a number of troops from Papua Regional Police and the backup personnel from the Jayawijaya District Police are still on standby at Yalimo. “This is being done because the officer in Yalimo Police is only 30 personnel, it’s not maximized. the ideal number is 300 personnel stationed there”, he said.

Even though most of the residents are still in the refugee camps, according to him, they have slowly started to return to their homes and continued their routine activity. Currently, The Police and local government is trying to fulfill the necessity of the refugees. “Our principle is to help them”, said Mustafa.

Another effort made by the Papuan Police is to mediate among the groups of supporters from the regional head running mates. The Commanders of Papua Police, Inspector General Mathius D. Fakhir, according to Mustafa, has made efforts to persuade residents not to take action do the harmful activity and disrupt the economic and security stability at Yalimo. “When they met several figures, the police always doing the coordination. The Constitutional Court did not see the situation and the condition at Yalimo, sometimes that is not always understood by the person in Jakarta,” said Mustafa.

   In his pers statement, the Papua Police Commander Mathius also hopes that the minister of home affairs Tito Karnavian should immediately take a policy to address the situation in Yalimo. “If it is charged to the local government, they certainly can’t do anything, because just for the re-election (PSU) only they were budged difficulties. They don’t have a locally-generated revenue (PAD). So far they have relied on central transfer funds. Therefore, everything returns to the central government,” he said in Wamena, Tuesday, June 6, 2021.

A commissioner of the Bawaslu for Supervision and Prevention, Demiyanus Banyage also participated at the meeting which took place on Monday, May 5, 2021.  In this meeting, according to Demianus, the supporters of the Erdi Dabi-John Wilil running mates insisted on rejecting the Constitutional Court’s decision. If the re-election held without the mates of number 01 continues, supporters threaten to disrupt the voting process. “They conveyed the three aspirations. Finally asked the Minister of Home Affairs to issue a Decree to inaugurating the running mates of Erdi Dabi-John W Wilil,” he said.

Meanwhile, Erdi Dabi when contacted by phone did not want to talk much. The question sent via Whatsapp messages were not replied to. To, Erdi and his supporters admitted that they were disappointed with the Constitutional Court’s decision. However, he did not want to be blamed for the riots in Elelim. “It is not only my supporters who are the perpetrators of the burn,” said Erdi on Wednesday, June 30, 2021.


Lack of Anticipation

The regional head election in Yalimo which was won by candidate mates number 1, Erdi Dabi-John Wilil with the result of 47,881 votes were sued by his competitors, Lakius Peyon-Nahum Mabel, to the Constitutional Court (MK). the case registered number 97/PHP.BUP-XIX/2021 questioned the voting at District Walerak and Apalapsili. the result is on Friday, March 19, 2021, the Constitutional Court ordered the Yalimo election commission to held re-voting (PSU) in both district because the previous voting at the ballot site was not carried out directly, publicly, freely, confidentially, honestly and fairly. 

“In Kampung Lampukmu, 18 ballot boxes were deprivation and in Kampung Natoksili another 11 ballot boxes were illegally grabbed,” said Chief Justice of Constitutional Court Anwar Usman in the open trial broadcast by the Court via Youtube, Friday, March 19, 2021.

Even so, the re-voting which was held on May 5, 2021, was still won by Erdi-John mates with the result of 47.785 votes, meanwhile Lakius-Nahum mates only received 34.053 votes. Not happy with the results, Lakius-Nahum again filed a lawsuit at the end of May 2021. Pither Ponda Barani as a lawyer as release by official Constitutional Court sites, filed the results of the Yalimo Election Commission 117/PL.01.8-Kpt/9122/KPU-Kab/V/2021 regarding the Determination of the Post-Decision of the Vote Counting Recapitulation. BUP-XIX/2021. “The practice of violations and fraud that occurred in voting has harmed the result of the votes of the applicant,” said Pither. 

On the lawsuit, the lawyer also stated Erdi Dabi was committed administration violations because doing the criminal act. In the lawsuit, the lawyer also stated Erdi Dabi has committed administration violations because of doing the criminal act. The former deputy Regent of Yalimo has been declared as a suspect in the traffic accident which killed the policewoman on the past September 17, 2020.  

The Jayapura District Court Panel of Judges previously sentenced Erdi to four months in prison. Erdi was charged with Law No. 22 of 2009 concerning Road Traffic and Transportation. From the result of the health forensic, it was found that there was alcohol in Erdi’s body. He was detained at the Class IA Abepura Jayapura Penitentiary at the end of last April. But now he concerned has been declared free through letter numbered W30.E.PK.01.05.10-36 since 6 July. 

Because of the legal cases, the panel of Judge of the Constitutional Court again granted the lawsuit of the result of the Yalimo regional elections. In the verdict No 145/PHP.BUP-XIX/2021 which was read out by the Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court, Anwar Usman canceled the Yalimo Papua election commission decision for the re-voting results on May 11, 2021, canceled the Yalimo Papua election commission decision regarding the appointment of regent candidates as long as Erdi Darbi’s participation, ordered So that the Yalimo KPU holds re-election with the candidate mates number 01, the new candidate John W. Wilil and the mates’ number 02 Lakius Peyon-Nahum Mabeh, and the last is ordering that the re-election should be carried out a maximum of 120 days starting from June 29, 2021.

“Declaring disqualification of the candidates for regent Erdi Dabi with the running mates of regent and the deputy regent of Yalimo Regency the number 1 because they no longer meet the requirements as candidates for the election of regent and deputy regent of Yalimo Regency in 2020,” said Anwar.

Meanwhile, the chief of Yalimo election commission, Yehemia Walianggen as reported by Antara, stated that he doesn’t want to carry out the Constitutional Court’s decision. The reason is the security situation in Yalimo. He does not want the re-voting as ordered by the Constitutional Court to exacerbate conflict in the community. “I personally stated that I would not carry out the re-voting process for the second time,” said Yehemia, Monday, June 5, 2021.

Inline with Yehemia, the chairman of Yalimo election supervisory board,  Habakuk Mabel also does not want to carry out all the Constitutional Court decisions. He said the election organizers were worried that the re-voting would trigger horizontal conflicts that would lead to tribal wars.

Habakuk has chosen to resign as chairman of the election supervisory because has no ability to run the re-voting. “We don’t want to carry out the Constitutional Court’s decision, we are worried that we will also be targeted. It’s not easy. Talking in Papua is not as easy as talking in Jakarta,” he told

In order to calm the anger of the supporters, according to Habakuk, the Election Commission and the central Election Supervisory need to help resolve the conflict in Yalimo. In addition, the Constitutional Court also felt the need to intervene to provide explanations to the citizens. “You need to be careful in this situation. It is better for the person from the central to handle it themselves,” he said.

Until this news was published, had not been able to get direct confirmation from the KPU. The KPU commissioner, I Dewa Kade Wiarsa Raka, when contacted, asked to contact Chairman Ilham Saputra directly because the affairs at Yalimo are very complicated. “Because this is very important, please ask the KPU chairman first,” he said, Wednesday, July 7, 2021. Meanwhile, Ilham did not answer calls or questions sent via WhatsApp messages. 

A researcher on the Democracy and Elections Network with Integrity (Netgrit), Hadar Nafis Gumay, said he was concerned about the post-election riots that occurred in Yalimo some time ago. According to Hadar, there were at least two factors that caused the riots. The first is the low anticipation of the organizers and the low commitment of participants and supporters in the democratic process.  

“In one election there is should be not a conflict. The tension is normal, but the conflict that leads to violence is should not happen. It was disrupted the quality of the election itself. The election is how to choose a leader through peaceful competition,” Hadar said when contacted by, Saturday, July 10, 2021

Both the election administrator, government, and the police should have been able to mitigate so that post-election riots do not happen. Moreover, the Constitutional Court has ordered the security apparatus to ensure the re-voting there is running safely. “It should the map of conflict, the estimates, and analysis from the security forces can be legible what will happen. Once there is a decision, the personnel in the field is ready to face it. Maybe it was not running well in this case,” he said.

Therefore, Hadar asks all the stakeholders, from the administrator, security forces, and the candidate running in the election will undergo the Constitutional Court decision. The verdict of the Constitutional Court which disqualifies one of the running election candidates, cannot be used as the basis for the chaos in Yalimo. “If yes, it is very risky and the security forces cannot guarantee that it can be postponed further and a more appropriate time is sought. But don’t procrastinate for security reasons. It must be decided together,” he said. 

Meanwhile, the Secretary-General of the Asia Democracy Network (ADN), Ichal Supriadi, assessed that the dissatisfaction of the supporters from one candidate’s mates in the Constitutional Court decision can not be separated from characteristics of the political typology that exist in Indonesia over the years. “In general, post-election conflicts have several causes, one of which is public dissatisfaction after expressing their political desires,” said Ichal when contacted by telephone, Thursday, July 8, 2021.

“The roots of the problem is”, he said similar to the general political situation in Southeast Asia. Among other things related to regional conflicts, and also violent practices. “Papua must be addressed and received attention. Can not be equated with other provinces. From economics, geography, politics, community power structure, and security threats. Must get a bigger portion, both the selection from the election administrator, organizing, security, and budget, “he explained.

With the absence of mitigation, the chaos in Yalimo is worried to extend the list of conflicts regarding the general elections in the eegions, both vertically and horizontally. Currently, the ASEAN countries which faced the political crisis are Myanmar. In the country, there are problems with democracy and serious human rights violations after the military coup in February 2021. The military accusing of fraud in the election which was held on November 8, 2020. Meanwhile, the election administrator is deemed unable to overcome the problem that stemmed from the claim for the difference in votes.

In addition to Myanmar, said Ichal, violence related to elections has also occurred in the Philippines. Although not homogeneous, this condition is not much different from in Indonesia. If in the Philippines it happened during the voting, then in Indonesia it happened after the vote. Similar conditions occur in Bangladesh and Afghanistan. “Violence in Southeast Asia is actually rarely seen except for Indonesia. Indonesia has the hardest election,” he said.

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Binti Rosidah is one of more than 1.6 million Indonesians living and working in Malaysia. She has been working as a domestic worker in Kuala

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