Voting begins in Indonesia elections

April 9th, 2009 - 8:52 am ICT by IANS  

Jakarta, April 9 (Xinhua) Indonesians began voting Thursday morning in parliamentary elections, the third since the fall of the Suharto dictatorship in 1998.
Voting began at 7 a.m. in Indonesia’s easternmost Papua province in the sprawling archipelago nation of more than 17,000 islands spanning three different time zones.

There are about 171 million eligible voters, who will elect members of the national parliament, regional representatives and districts parliamentary members from 38 national political parties and six local parties in Aceh province.

Thursday’s elections is the third in the world’s largest archipelago since the democratic reforms began in 1998 following the resignation of dictator Suharto amid protests and financial ruin after three decades in power, and Thursday’s vote is seen as another key test for Indonesia’s young democracy.

At the national level, some 11,215 legislative candidates are competing for 560 seats in the House of Representatives (DPR), and 1,109 for 132 seats in the Regional Representatives Council (DPD).

At the regional level, 112,000 people are competing for 1,998 provincial legislative council seats and an estimated 1.5 million others are battling for 15,750 seats on district/municipal legislative councils.

According to the electoral regulations, a party or a coalition which get 25 percent of the votes or 20 percent of the seats in the House of Representatives (DPR) can nominate their candidates for presidency in July presidential election.

Meanwhile, there were reports of violence in Papua province hours before the voting began. A mob armed with arrows and bows, and petrol bombs attacked a police station, forcing the police to open fire that killed one. Several people were also arrested.

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