Surakarta postpones regional elections stages over COVID-19 concerns

                Solo, C Java (ANTARA) – The General Elections Commission (KPU) in Surakarta City, Central Java, decided to defer the stages of regional elections to thwart the spread of new coronavirus disease (COVID-19), as Indonesia is witnessing a rising death toll.

“A decision has been taken to postpone the holding of regional elections since March 22 for a period of time for which an announcement will be made later while waiting for the KPU officials in the provincial and national levels,” Head of the KPU-Surakarta Office Nurul Sutarti stated here on Monday.

The KPU-Surakarta Office’s decision had been stipulated in Letter Number 43/PP.01.2-Kpt/3372/KPU-Kot/IX/2019 containing a guideline of the technical stages, programs, and schedules of the 2020 Surakarta city mayor and deputy mayor elections, she noted.

The stages of the city’s regional elections that have been postponed comprise the swearing-in of polling station working committee members and their working period as well as the verification of requirements for supporting independent candidates, Sutarti expounded.

In addressing the impact of ongoing concerns over this global pandemic of COVID-19 on this year’s regional elections, the House of Representatives (DPR) had earlier urged the KPU and Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) to draft standard operating procedures (SOPs).

To this end, the related authorities, tasked with the convening of the regional elections, should not rush to take a decision on whether to cancel or still proceed with it, Chairman of the House’s Commission II Overseeing Home Affairs Ahmad Doli Kurnia emphasized.

“For the time being, every stage of the elections that had been scheduled may be implemented, but all activities, involving mass gatherings, need to be restricted and carried out in shifts,” he emphasized in his recent press statement.

The global pandemic of COVID-19 is expected to end soon and not disrupt the people’s activities, including the scheduled convening of this year’s simultaneous regional elections, he remarked.

Deputy House Speaker Sufmi Dasco Ahmad had also expressed concerns that at least 514 people in several Indonesian cities infected by COVID-19 might hinder the convening of the 2020 regional elections, scheduled simultaneously in 270 regions.

“The House urges the government to review the convening of this year’s simultaneous regional elections amid our ongoing concerns over the COVID-19 outbreak,” Ahmad affirmed.

As of March 22, the government revealed that Indonesia had 514 confirmed COVID-19 cases, while the death toll from this deadly virus had reached 48, and 29 COVID-19 patients had receive discharge from hospitals.

Regional elections were scheduled in 270 regions in Indonesia, comprising nine provinces, 224 districts, and 37 cities on September 23, 2020.

Source: ANTARA News