Indonesians begin voting in national election

Election process hit by heavy rains, claims of vote buying and missed deadlines for delivery of ballot boxes.

    Indonesians have started voting in national and local elections amid claims of vote-buying by candidates, poor funding of election bodies and delays caused by bad weather.

    Voting started in the eastern region of Papua at 7am local time on Wednesday, but 30 other districts were facing delays of up to three days because of heavy rain.

    "The polls are open in the main towns, like Jayapura, but last night, planes still couldn't reach some districts in the mountains," Betty Wanane, a Papua province election official, told the AFP news agency.

    She added that the local election body was not given a large enough budget to deliver all the ballots and boxes and that several logistical deadlines had been missed.

    Local media also reported that some candidates were making illegal, last-minute attempts to buy votes with cooking oil, sugar and other handouts.

    The main opposition party, the Democratic Party of Struggle, is expected to dominate due to its announcement last month that Joko Widodo, a popular Jakarta governor, would run as its presidential candidate.

    The elections, the fourth in Indonesia since the downfall of the three-decade Suharto dictatorship in 1998, are important because they determine who can run for president during the July 9 election.

    A party or coalition needs 20 percent of the seats in the 560-seat lower house of parliament or 25 percent of the national vote to put forward a presidential candidate.

    While the main focus is on the election at the national level, Indonesians will also vote for politicians in provincial and district legislatures on Wednesday.

    About 186 million Indonesians are eligible to vote and about 230,000 candidates are competing nationwide for about 20,000 seats.

    SOURCE: AFP


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