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Cablegate: East Java Elections Commission: Electoral Politics and Mud

VZCZCXRO6278
RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJS #0067/01 3060936
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 020936Z NOV 07
FM AMCONSUL SURABAYA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0096
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0037
RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA 0088
RUEHPB/AMEMBASSY PORT MORESBY 0011
RUEHJS/AMCONSUL SURABAYA 0098
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0014
RUEHC/USAID WASHDC
RHHMUNA/USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 0035

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SURABAYA 000067

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR USAID
DEPT FOR EAP/MTS AND EB/ESC/IEC
DEPT FOR DS/IP/EAP
DOE FOR CUTLER/PI-32 AND NAKANO/PI-42
COMMERCE FOR USDOC 4430

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ENIV EPET ELAB ENRG PGOV ASEC ID EAID
SUBJECT: EAST JAVA ELECTIONS COMMISSION: ELECTORAL POLITICS AND MUD

REF: SURABAYA 66 (AND PREVIOUS)

SURABAYA 00000067 001.2 OF 002


This message is sensitive but unclassified. Please protect
accordingly.

1. (SBU) Summary: On October 31, Consulate General Surabaya
Pol/Econ Officer and Pol/Econ Assistant met with East Java
Provincial Election Commission (KPU) officials. They expressed
concern that the mud flow disaster in Porong could affect
election logistics for vast areas of East Java. The highway and
rail lines linking east to western East Java Province encounter
a choke point at the town of Porong. While the mud flow itself
routinely causes delays, a greater concern is targeted protests
by local residents holding ballot boxes hostage along the way.
Elections officials also described the procedural challenges of
registering a scattered refugee population and requested U.S.
help in automating provincial vote counting. End Summary

2. (SBU) During an October 31 meeting, KPU officials expressed
concern that the mud flow disaster would have a disastrous
impact on election logistics, both in the registration of voters
and in the counting of ballots. KPU officials told us that due
to the inundation of local village registrars' offices by the
mud, vital records needed to prove residence were lost. While
procedures exist to produce new documentation, there is no clear
systematic means of contacting former residents, since a new
voter registration list must be made for each local election
under the election law. Not only are most of mudflow victims
widely scattered, many are also fearful of losing their right to
compensation for their losses by registering elsewhere. KPU
officials explained that mud victims could reregister to vote in
their new homes, but most do not for fear of losing proof of
their former residence. The residence card (or KTP) showing an
address now buried under mud is the only evidence many displaced
residents have to prove their entitlement to future
compensation. While the KTP is sufficient proof of identity in
national elections, in provincial elections the voter must have
proof of local residence and a new voter registration card.

3. (SBU) KPU officials estimated that the number of voters from
mud-flow affected areas (excluding the victims of recent dyke
collapses) is around 45,000 (reftel). The East Java KPU has two
proposals to handle the problem of registration. First, asking
the residents to gather in a district to be registered together
as a notional village. Or, all victims could be called to
gather in one place and undergo verification of eligibility.
There is no basis in election law to justify either solution,
however. The KPU requires a new legal umbrella in order to
avoid controversy after the 2008 election.

4. (SBU) The deadline for promised compensation payments for
mud flow victims is fast approaching. Lapindo must fulfill its
obligation to pay the remaining 80% of the emergency leasing
support before May 2008, the second anniversary of the disaster.
The East Java gubernatorial election is planned for July 2008.
If Lapindo fails to make good on its pledge for compensation,
KPU officials believe that thousands of mudflow victims will
hold massive demonstrations and block the main roads Surabaya
and Sidoarjo with cities to the South and East. A similar
demonstration occurred for three full days last year and traffic
came to a complete halt. If history is repeated, distribution
of blank ballots in advance of the election and the return of
completed ballots after the election would be disrupted.

Request for USG Assistance
----------------------------------

5. (SBU) KPU officials estimated that they will oversee 65,000
polling booths, and facilitate the voting of approximately 29.4
million voters during the East Java gubernatorial election.
Officials told us that distribution and logistics hamper their
efforts even in the best of circumstances; many polling places
are so remote that it can take up to a week to reach. In the
past, the state energy company Pertamina assisted with shipping
the ballots. KPU officials are considering requesting
assistance from the Indonesian Navy to reach outlying islands.
A planned transition from manual to machine counted ballots
cannot be made due to a lack of legal foundation. KPU official
Arif Budiman asked whether the U.S. Government could help East
Java KPU computerize vote counting. Budiman also noted that the

SURABAYA 00000067 002.2 OF 002


Japanese Government helped Indonesia in the 2004 national
elections by providing ballot boxes, but only 80% of them can be
re-used.
MCCLELLAND

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