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Legal Challenge to Bali's New Governor

Courts to Decide if Governor Pastika Broke Election Laws.

(10/13/2008) Gede Winasa, a candidate in Bali's recent gubernatorial race, is seeking to have Governor Made Pastika’s victory overturned by the courts.

Alleging that Governor Pastika violated the law by not resigning as a police officer before running for Bali's top post, Winasa has named the National Elections Commission, National Chief of Police, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Made Pastika as co-defendants.

Following an initial court session held on September 18th, the case was reconvened on October 9th only to be postponed again when legal representatives of President Yudhoyono and Governor Pastika failed to attend.

The Governor's office have commented separately that they have yet to receive a formal summons to attend the court proceedings.

Winasa's charges before the courts contend that Pastika conducted his campaign while still employed as an active police officer. This, Winasa claims, violates various laws requiring the police to remain neutral and uninvolved in the election process. These laws stipulate the police officers are only allowed to stand for public office after resigning their commission or retiring from the force.

Governor Pastika's legal advisor, Robert Khuana, has told the press that once his client is formally summoned to the Court they are prepared to answer and rebut each point of Winasa's complaint.

The Court is expected to reconvene again 3 weeks after the thwarted October 9th session.

A Disingenuous Denial

Despite two court sessions, Winasa is now trying to distance himself from his own court case against Governor Pastika. Winasa, who ran for governor and serves as the Regent (Bupati) of Jembrana, has told NusaBali saying he's not suing his just-elected boss, claiming press reports of his suit against Pastika are wrong.

Winasa says that a power of attorney that he signed and gave to a lawyer from his party never specifically granted the right to sue Pastika. “We only gave authority to take legal steps against irregularities in the governor's race," Winasa explained.

Winasa also claims that he has tried to call his party's lawyer to revoke the power of attorney and suggested to the press that his personal failure to make a written revocation of the power of attorney is probably the reason that the case continues before the courts.

Winasa told NusaBali that he is not contesting the election and accepts the election of Pastika. Winasa said: "It's over. I’ve closed the books (on the election). I have opened a new page."

It is not clear, however, if Winasa and his party have formally withdrawn their legal challenge from the courts.