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Elections: Security 80% in the People's Hands

Bali Police Chief's Thoughts on Maintaining the Peace in Run-Up to Elections.

(3/29/2004) Bali's Chief of Police, Inspector General Made Mangku Pastika, recently shared his thoughts on maintaining the peace in the current period of political campaigning in Bali. In comments published in the Indonesian-language newspaper Kompas on March 27, 2004, Chief Pastika said that in the effort to maintain the peace the police force's contribution is only 20% of the whole, with the remaining 80% dependent on the people's support.

So Far, So Good

With the exception of several minor campaign skirmishes that have occurred in Tabanan and Sukawati, the days of campaigning that commenced officially on March 11 have proceeded with remarkable smoothness, a situation that is hoped to be maintained until the first round of voting on April 5, 2004.

Bali's long history of protracted internecine conflict fuelled by political rivalry has caused considerable concern among the island's leaders in the pre-election period. Violent political conflicts in October of 2003 claimed the lives of 2 members of the Golkar Party in political skirmishes between the Golkar and The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) in Buleleng. Buleleng was also the scene of political violence 5 years earlier costing 9 lives. In 1971, again in Buleleng, riots and widespread fires in the community resulted when local residents refused demands to join the then-ruling Golkar party.

Heavy Security Measures in Place

According to Chief Pastika, some 7,200 police personnel have been deployed to guarantee security in Bali prior to the elections. In addition to the heavy police presence, Chief Pastika has also established dialogues with all community leaders in Bali. During those meetings the Chief has urged local traditional villages to avoid direct involvement in practical politics, keeping the local defense forces or pacalang from playing any role in the campaigning of the various parties vying for seats in the election process.

 

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