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Cablegate: Aceh Holds Free and Fair Elections, the First

VZCZCXRO1652
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJA #3462/01 3451210
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 111210Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2437
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA IMMEDIATE 0213
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON IMMEDIATE 0770
RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE IMMEDIATE 3283
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO IMMEDIATE 0156
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON IMMEDIATE 1206
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 JAKARTA 013462

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR OPERATIONS CENTER, EAP/MTS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL EAID KDEM KPAO ID
SUBJECT: ACEH HOLDS FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS, THE FIRST
SINCE HELSINKI MOU

1. Summary: The U.S. Mission in Indonesia fielded a team of
40 U.S. officials and local support staff to monitor the
gubernatorial and district administrative elections in the
Indonesian province of Aceh on December 11. Embassy's press
release, below, provides our endorsement of the election
process, an assessment which is shared by domestic monitoring
groups and other foreign observer delegations. Scattered
problems, primarily with registration, do not appear to have
been extensive enough to affect the outcome of the election.
Counting is still under way, but early indications are that
former GAM leader Irwandi Yusuf appears to have taken the
lead and may have enough votes to win without a second round.
End Summary.

2. U.S. ELECTION OBSERVATION TEAM STATEMENT
ON GUBERNATORIAL ELECTIONS ON DECEMBER 11, 2006
IN ACEH PROVINCE, INDONESIA

The United States Embassy congratulates the people of Aceh
for their historic exercise of democracy on December 11,
which proceeded in a largely free, fair and peaceful manner
in areas observed by the U.S. election observation team.
This first truly democratic election in Aceh in half a
century is an important step in the transition from conflict
to peace, stability and self-governance within Aceh. It
builds upon the Helsinki Memorandum of Understanding of
August 2006 and the Law on the Governance of Aceh of July
2006. The people of Aceh and the people of Indonesia as a
whole can rightly take pride in this achievement.

The U.S. team, which consisted of 40 persons accredited by
the Indonesian Department of Foreign Affairs and the Aceh
Electoral Commission (KIP), observed gubernatorial and
district administrative elections. The observers deployed to
the capital of Banda Aceh and 13 of the 19 contested
districts on December 9, met with local officials on December
10 and witnessed voting and counting at polling stations on
December 11. Ambassador B. Lynn Pascoe said these historic
elections in Aceh "demonstrated the strong commitment of the
people of Indonesia to democratic values and principles."

The U.S. team found the election environment and voting
process generally free of intimidation and manipulation.
Although confusion about registration and proper
identification prevented some persons from voting at some
polling stations, voting and counting proceeded without
significant disruption or restriction on voter access to
polls. The United States will share more detailed findings
with the KIP.

The U.S. team noted the tremendous enthusiasm and support
from the people of Aceh for the elections. Other important
elements in the voting process included the commitment of the
Provincial Government of Aceh, the leadership of the KIP, the
diligence of the many domestic monitors, including the
People's Voter Education Network, the NGO Forum, the E-card
Community/Jurdil and the Independent Election Observer
Committee, as well as the presence of the European Union and
other international observers.

END U.S. EMBASSY JAKARTA PRESS STATEMENT

LOCAL MONITORING GROUPS GIVE ELECTION PROCESS THUMBS UP

3. The people's Voter Education Network (JPPR), a national
NGO which ran the largest monitoring operation this election,
observed 121 subdistricts in all of Aceh's districts. JPPR
described the election as "smooth but with some
irregularities" and noted that overall, the elections were
"safe and peaceful." Nevertheless, they detailed numerous
shortcomings based on lack of administrative preparation.
They singled out incomplete voter lists as the most
problematic element.

4. Jurdil Aceh, a local NGO supported in part by U.S.
assistance, said people were able to vote freely and
confidentiality of votes compared favorably with previous

SIPDIS
elections. Jurdil hailed the elections as "a new process for
Aceh" but noted the democratic framework was not yet
complete. There were several incidents of intimidation and
other technical irregularities and two cases where Jurdil
monitors were detailed by the police and prevented from
conducting their duties as observers. Jurdil praised the

JAKARTA 00013462 002 OF 002


Indonesian police as a whole, as well as the military (TNI),
for "having kept their word" by not interfering in the
election.

5. The NGO Forum described election conditions in the
province as "smooth, safe and conducive" and said there were
no major incidents during the voting process. The
organization judged the conduct of the election to be "much
better" than anticipated.

6. The International Republican Institute (IRI) fielded a
small observer mission. IRI's country representative told us
their observers encountered the same kinds of procedural
flaws reported by other missions but were "pleasantly
surprised" to witness several cases where election officials
used common sense, within the scope of the election
regulations, to diffuse potential problems. The only
significant problem encountered was at one polling station
where tensions escalated when approximately 400 GAM
sympathizers were denied ballots for improper identification.

7. According to the police, three polling stations had to
close because of disruption by groups who had been denied
poll access for lack of registration or documentation. The
head of the Aceh Electoral Commission (KIP) acknowledged
these incidents but pointed out this affected only three of
over 8,000 stations throughout the province.

8. Several Acehnese contacts, including senior election
officials, emphasized this election could not be compared
with previous elections in Aceh and was Aceh's first truly
democratic election. In 2004, they asserted, the vast
majority of voters felt pressured to vote by the military,
which controlled the province under martial law. Voters who
could not show a "purple finger" were harassed, and voters
often chose to spoil their ballots rather than cast a vote
for candidates backed by the military.

MAIN PROBLEM IS REGISTRATION AND IDENTIFICATION

9. Members of the official U.S. observation team observed
high turnout at polling stations throughout the province and
received good support from local officials. Rain in
southeastern and central Aceh delayed polling station opening
but voters appear to have been able to reach the polls before
they closed.

10. By all accounts, the single biggest problem was voter
registration. Difficulties had been expected and publicized,
but the extent of the problem turned out to be greater than
anticipated. Nevertheless, it does not appear to have been
significant enough to affect the outcome of the election.
KIP was unable to distribute registration cards to as many as
ten percent of voters prior to the election. To compensate,
KIP instructed local officials at the last minute to check
registration lists and send letters of invitation to voters
in their district. These invitations were to be used as
proof of eligibility. Because not all of these invitations
could be delivered in time, KIP also authorized local
officials to permit persons whose names appeared on
registration lists to vote if they could prove their
identity. Several U.S. observers witnessed polling stations
lacking voter registration lists. Others found stations
which failed to check registration cards against voter
registration lists to determine eligibility. Local
monitoring groups similarly reported that affected voters
were not uniformly successful in obtaining access on this
basis. Most of these cases appear to have involved small
groups of people, usually less than 100. Some monitors in
Aceh Jaya reported as much as 30 percent of registered voters
were unable to vote because of this. In Bireuen and Pidie
districts local monitors reported persons being absent from
voter registration lists without explanation.
PASCOE

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