Indonesia's General Election Commission to challenge 'discrepancy' in poll delay ruling

General Elections Commission (KPU) chairman Hasyim Asy’ari (right) speaks with KPU commissioner August Mellaz in Jakarta on March 9, 2023, during a group discussion about the Central Jakarta District Court’s controversial ruling in a civil lawsuit filed by the fledgling Prima Party that effectively postpones next year’s elections by 28 months. - Jakarta Post/ANN

JAKARTA, March 26 (Jakarta Post/ANN): The General Elections Commission (KPU) of Indonesia has filed additional materials in its appeal against a ruling by a lower court ordering it to postpone the 2024 general elections, with the election organiser claiming that it had found that the controversial ruling was upheld by a discrepancy.

The controversial ruling was issued by a three-member judicial panel at the Central Jakarta District Court in early March for a civil lawsuit brought by the newly formed Just and Prosperous People’s (Prima) Party, which claimed that it was denied the chance to participate in the 2024 general election by the KPU.

In its verdict, the court orders the KPU to halt all ongoing election processes and restart the process lasting 28 months and seven days.

Lawmakers say the lower court has no authority to issue such a ruling that effectively pushes back the general election scheduled for Feb. 14, 2024 to a date in 2025 at the earliest.

KPU commissioner Mochammad Afifuddin said the commission had submitted additional materials on Monday in its appeal against the ruling, claiming that it had found a discrepancy between a legal fact that appears in the court's decision and the KPU’s account.

The published court ruling states that “the Court has sought peace between the parties through mediation [...] by appointing judges at the Central Jakarta District Court as a mediator”, and “based on the mediator’s report on Oct. 26, 2022, the peace effort was unsuccessful”.

Afifuddin dismissed these statements as “untrue”, as the commission had never received “any invitation for or attempt at mediation” before the lower court issued its ruling, thus the lawsuit process was flawed.

The poll body has called for an interlocutory decision ordering to court to provide mediation between KPU and the Prima Party.

“Regarding the legal reason for requesting an interlocutory decision, it is legal to ask for a suspension of the immediate enforcement of the court’s decision,” Afifuddin said on Friday.

The KPU insisted that the court should grant its request, as “there was a need to prioritize the interests of the state”, which was obliged to execute the provisions of the General Election Law stipulating that the general elections must be held every five years.

The prevailing laws also did not accommodate delaying the elections, Affifudin said.

“On the other hand, in the decision of the Central Jakarta District Court, the KPU has been ordered to postpone the election stages immediately, which has also been interpreted as including postponing [Prima’s] reverification, as determined in the Bawaslu’s decision,” he added.

The Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) ruled on Monday that the KPU had committed an “administrative violation” in denying Prima’s application to register as an election participant, and so the party would be allowed to resubmit its application.

This opens a possibility for settling the party’s dispute with the election organizer without postponing the elections. - The Jakarta Post/ANN

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