Banda Aceh residents join a parade campaigning for a safe local election. (Antara Photo/Irwansyah Putra)

Aceh Gubernatorial Poll Prone to Violence: Political Watchdog


AUGUST 04, 2016

Jakarta. A political watchdog urged the police on Thursday (04/08) to strictly enforce the law during the 2017 Aceh gubernatorial election, because of the high potential for political violence, spurred on by provocative campaigns.

Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem) researcher Kholilullah predicts that two local parties – the Aceh Party and Aceh National Party – will make all efforts to win the election, also by teaming up with national parties. However, their competition and provocative statements might trigger violence.


The Aceh Election Supervisory Committee (Panwaslu) recorded 57 cases of political violence during the 2006 gubernatorial election, 91 during the 2009 legislative and presidential election, and 167 during the 2012 gubernatorial election. Kholilullah believes civil society groups recorded even more incidents but chose not to publicize them or name the suspects for the sake of political stability.

"In the 2006 provincial election, the targets of violence were members of the public and politicians backed by national parties. In 2012, those targeted were politicians from local parties," he said.

Perludem said Saiful Husen, the former commander of the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM) in Bireuen district, assisted independent candidate pair Irwandi Yusuf and Muhyan Yunan in their election campaign.  Saiful, better known as Pon Cagee, was shot dead in 2011.

T. Muhammad, alias Cekgu, who also supported Irwandi, was shot dead in 2012. The assassins later confessed that the killing was ordered by Aceh Party politician Zakaria Saman, alias Apa Kaya. He was never charged with the murder.

"To improve the quality of political practices in the province, Perludem appealed to the Aceh Police to take firm law enforcement measures in case of violent incidents during the election. The police must avoid a 'political approach' in handling acts of violence, which may threaten the poll's integrity," Kholilullah said.

Three local parties will participate in the upcoming election: The Aceh Party, Aceh National Party and Aceh Peace Party. Many of their representatives are former members of GAM.