Yalimo Reconciliation First, Re-Voting Later  

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

It’s been a month since the riots related to the re-voting (PSU) for regional head elections in Yalimo Regency, Papua broke out. About a thousand residents still survive in the evacuation site. The majority of the refugees were accommodated by relatives in the districts of Wamena and Jayawijaya. There are around 10-15 of them in the Yalimo Police Station. The refugees not only suffered loss materially but were also traumatized.

Head of Information for Kodam XVII/Cenderawasih Lieutenant Colonel Arm Reza Nur said that residents still felt that the security conditions in Yalimo were not yet safe. “Since 126 kiosk houses burned, no one has returned,” said Reza to Jaring.id, Tuesday, July 13, 2021.

The Ministry of Social Affairs since last week has distributed logistics including 3000 meals-ready-to-eat food packages consisting of 100 children’s food packages; 200 sheets of blankets; 200 mattress sheets; 200 packages of kids ware, as well as 3 tons of regular rice from the Divre Bulog Wamena. Besides that, there are also hundreds of clothes for adults and children. “The logistical relief will be distributed according to urgent priorities in evacuation sites in Yalimo Regency,” said Director of Social Management for Victims of Natural Disasters, Syafii Nasution, Monday, July 5, 2021.

Previously, the riots in Yalimo broke out after the Constitutional Court (MK) disqualified Erdi Dabi from the regent election contestation through a verdict no 145/PHP.BUP-XIX/2021. It was decided that Erdi was not eligible to run for the regional head election because he had problems with violating the law. The former Deputy Regent of Yalimo was named a suspect in a traffic accident that killed a female police officer on September 17, 2020. Erdi, who was driving a Toyota Hilux at that time, was proven drunk. This was evidenced by an examination of the alcohol content in the ex-deputy regent’s body. Therefore, the Jayapura District Court Panel of Judges sentenced Erdi to four months in prison. Erdi was punished by Law No. 22 of 2009 concerning Road Traffic and Transportation.

The Papuan Regional Police claim that the security conditions in Yalimo have started to become conducive. According to the Head of Public Relations of the Papua Regional Police, Police Commissioner Ahmad Mustofa Kamal, people are gradually starting to carry out trading activities as well as office activities. “The situation is quite safe,” he said. The Papuan Regional Police have backed up 100 personnel at Yalimo. They come from Jayawijaya and Wamena. This is because the number of policemen who were on guard at the Yalimo Police Station previously was only around 30 people. “This number is only from the police, not to mention the assistance of troops from the army,” he said when contacted by Jaring.id, Thursday, July 15, 2021.

In a press release on July 6, the Papuan Police Chief, Police Inspector General Mathius D. Fakhiri stated that the security situation in Yalimo was greatly influenced by policies from the central government. He hoped that the central government would take over the completion of the election in Yalimo. “If it is imposed on the local government, they certainly can’t do anything, because for re-voting (PSU), there will be budget difficulties. He has no Locally-generated Revenue (PAD). So far, they have only relied on budget dependence from central transfer funds. Therefore, all of this depends on the central government,” he said in Wamena, Tuesday, July 6 2021.

“These things can only be confirmed after we look at the next three months, for now, we can’t make assumptions. Currently, everything is going through a process regarding the Constitutional Court’s decision,” continued Fakhiri referring to the Constitutional Court’s decision that granted the lawsuit. and disqualified the participation of the Erdi Dabi-Jhon Wilil mates from the Yalimo Pilkada on June 29, 2021. The Constitutional Court also ordered the Yalimo KPU to conduct re-election starting from the registration stage of the Pilkada participants.


Election Organizers in Yalimo Have Difficulty Holding Re-Election

Even so, the organizers of the regional head election in Yalimo admitted that it was difficult to hold a re-vote. People are considered to be easily provoked by their emotions because basically from the beginning, both contestants, namely Erdi Dabi-John Wilil mates, and Lakius Peyon-Nahum Mebel mates, had a strong mass support base. Erdi was the Deputy Regent of Yalimo in the previous period. While Lakius is the former Regent of Yalimo. These two candidates are from different regions and ethnicities. Member of the Supervision and Prevention Division of the local Election Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu), Demianus Bayange, does not want the re-election to be held in fact, it will only rise to exacerbate conflict.

Demianus said there were at least three problems in the re-election issue. The first is the existence of facilities of offices. He said the previous office could no longer be used after the incident was set on fire by a mob at the end of last month. In addition, there are security problems and threats to election administrators. “The Constitutional Court’s decision must be implemented out. But now we see the situation and conditions in Yalimo, the organizers are not guaranteed. We in the district are in a condition that is located in a difficult geographical position. We find it difficult to do so,” Demianus told Jaring.id, Tuesday, July 6, 2021.

Gedung penyelenggara Pilkada Yalimo dibakar massa aksi usai mendengar putusan Mahkamah Konstitusi, Senin, 29 Juni 2021. Foto : Bawaslu Yalimo.

In fact, according to him, currently, some roads are still in the condition of being blocked by residents, so those who have already left Yalimo are stuck and cannot return home. “The condition is not safe. All road access is still blocked. Roadblocks are everywhere. Access is obstructed, as well as flight access. Travel access from Jayawijaya to Yalimo is also not accessible,” he said.

Therefore, he requested that The General Election Supervisory Agency and The General Elections Commission immediately handle the dispute over the election in Yalimo. Without this, according to him, it would be impossible for him to implement out the verdict of the Constitutional Court. “We will coordinate the Bawaslu and the KPU,” said Demianus.

Meanwhile, the chairman of The Yalimo General Elections Commission, Yehemia Waliangge, once admitted initially objected to having to hold a third vote. “I personally decided that I would not carry out the Re-voting process at Yalimo, I would definitely request this to my leadership at the Provincial KPU and the Central KPU if I were to resign from the position of Chairman of Yalimo,” he said.

Commenting on the matter, the Commissioner of the Indonesian KPU, I Dewa Kade Wiarsa Raka Sandi, confirmed that the Yalimo election would continue to remain according to the Constitutional Court’s decision. On a visit to Papua last week, Raka admitted that he had met with election organizers in Yalimo, including Yehemia. “The chairman and members of the Yalimo KPU and the secretariat are still carrying out their work. They remain committed and continue to carry out their duties at Yalimo,” said Raka when he told Jaring.id through online, Wednesday, July 14, 2021.

The election commission also had audiences with the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Mahfud MD, and the Commander of the Cenderawasih Military Command, Maj. Gen. Ignatius Yogo Triyono to seek security and deal with the social and economic impacts arising from the Yalimo election. The election commission also held hearings with a number of religious leaders and local community leaders to minimize inter-ethnic conflicts. According to Raka, the commission will ensure that all residents and those currently in evacuation sites can cast their ballots. “We are trying to carry out the re-voting stages,” he said.

In this case, both the Police and the TNI are committed to securing the re-election in Yalimo. However, according to the Head of Public Relations of the Papua Regional Police, Police Commissioner Ahmad Mustofa Kamal, the Papuan Police needs a schedule for the stages of the regional election to prepare additional troops. “We want to be able to schedule stages for 120 days,” said Papua Police Spokesperson, Commissioner Ahmad Mustafa Kamal. Meanwhile, the Cenderawasih Kodam claimed to be ready to support the police in securing the election. The military information chief of the Cenderawasih Military Command, Lt. Col. Arm Reza Nur Patria, stated that the army had coordinated with the police. “We are ready to support the rework of the re-voting in Yalimo,” he said.


Securing the Voters Rights

A researcher of the Network for Democracy and Electoral Integrity (Netgrit), Hadar Nafis Gumay, said the Constitutional Court’s decision to order a re-vote in Yalimo was one of the triggers for unrest in the community. Another factor is the lack of socialization and mitigation from the organizers regarding the election issue. “It could be another factor that the organizers made a mistake, for example, like a participant who feels he has his own rules. Cannot proceed with fair play in a democracy. Usually, this is the fundamental of the problem,” said Hadar when contacted by Jaring.id via telephone, Saturday, July 10, 2021.

Therefore, Hadar encouraged the election organizers and law enforcement agencies to resolve the conflict in Yalimo. The election commission, he said, needed to analyze various things to reduce the risks that could arise, both during preparation and voting. Meanwhile, the police need to seek reconciliation between the conflicting communities. The involvement of the community and local leaders is considered important in order to reduce the potential for friction.

“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,” he said.

In addition, Hadar also reminded the commission election not to ignore the rights of refugees. According to him, the commission must be able to record the evacuation sites as well as record all voters who are currently still at the evacuation locations. Therefore, it is important for the elections commission to prepare a scenario for making emergency polling places in evacuation sites. “The challenge is when the refugees are scattered everywhere,” he said.

Meanwhile, a lawmaker from Commission II of the Parliament, Guspardi Gaus, suggested that the Election Commission should intervene directly handling in resolving the conflict in Yalimo. “If the regional commission is incapable, so the central commission needs to do an in-depth study to find a solution that does not harm the people,” said Guspardi when contacted by Jaring.id via phone, Wednesday, July 14, 2021.

The lawmaker of the Partai Amanat Nasional (PAN) faction is also asked the election commission as well as the government and security forces to guarantee the refugees’ right to life and vote. This needs to be done considering that not a few residents are still worried to return home. “The government must be present. I feel sorry for those who are still evacuating.  The safety and comfort are what the people expecting,” said Guspardi.

The election commission claims to have taken several steps to conduct re-election in Yalimo. Among other things, coordination meetings with organizers at the provincial and district levels regarding the latest situation and conditions in Yalimo. In accordance with the Constitutional Court’s decision, the election commission has almost four months or 120 days to hold a vote. Based on Raka’s calculations, the re-voting can only be carried out in mid-December. “We focus on finding solutions regarding how to follow up on the Constitutional Court’s decision because this is the election commission obligation,” said the general election commissioner, I Dewa Kade Wiarsa Raka Sandi.

According to him, The Indonesian General Election Commission has also asked The Yalimo Election Commission to arrange the timeline of stages of the regional election, along with the draft budget needed during the re-voting process. Starting from socialization, nominations, distribution of serial numbers to the campaign stage, “The preparation of the stages takes time so that the constitutional rights of citizens can be accommodated. On the other hand, the implementation did not pass the deadline,” he said.

Meanwhile, regarding budgeting, said Raka, the regional government is still discussing it. This is in accordance with Law Number 10 of 2016 concerning the second amendment to Law Number 1 of 2015 concerning the stipulation of government regulations in lieu of Law Number 1 of 2014 concerning the election of governors, regents, and mayors into law. However, when the local government is incapable to finance it, the Indonesian Election Commission will coordinate with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the House of Representatives (Parliament) to find a budgeting solution.

Referring to the previous budget draft, the Yalimo regional elections were held at a cost of IDR 40 billion. The cost is less than the total budget that has been set, which is IDR 50 billion. Meanwhile, re-voting in two districts will cost IDR 9.5 billion. “The situation in the field is complex, when it comes to budgets, they will be presented and designed for existing needs,” he said.

The Director-General of Politics and General Administration of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Bahtiar told Jaring.id that he supported the Election Commissions entire agenda to hold re-election in Yalimo. “The process has been prepared by the administrators, the obligation of the government and local governments including the TNI-Polri is to help the election organizers successfully hold re-voting there,” said Bahtiar when contacted by Jaring.id, Tuesday, July 13, 2021.

A researcher from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) who has research interests on the Papua issue, Adriana Elisabeth, has warned that the election commission and the government should not only focus on the re-voting issue. In the near future, the government needs to ensure and guarantee the recovery of the social and economic life of the Yalimo community after the riots. He said the rights of citizens to get access to education, health and food and clothing cannot be ignored. “That is the priority, if you want the re-voting to be running well, you must reduce the various risks that arise,” Adriana told Jaring.id by telephone, on Thursday, July 15, 2021.

Without paying attention to this, he doubts that the re-election process will be enthusiastically welcomed by the public. “Don’t let this set a bad precedent every time you hold an election,” he concluded.

Overseas Voters’ Turnout Shrink

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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