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 12 Apr 2009

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Irregularities mar Indonesian vote

Indonesia's general elections have been marred by hundreds of complaints about irregularities, officials said on Saturday, raising questions about the legitimacy of the vote in some areas, reported AFP.

The Election Supervisory Body said it had received almost 400 official reports of irregularities surrounding Thursday's legislative vote, only the third in the country since the fall of strongman Suharto in 1998.

"We have received 378 election violation reports from officials in 28 provinces," Supervisory Body vote-counting chief Wahidah Suaib said.

"The reported cases are mostly about polling stations receiving ballots designated for other stations."

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Democratic Party won the most votes, according to independent polling agencies, but the final official results are not expected until May 9.

The Electoral Commission was widely criticised for its poor organisation of the poll, with reports of incomplete voter lists and delays in distributing ballot papers across the vast archipelago's 6,000 inhabited islands.

Suaib said most of the problems had appeared in Southeast Sulawesi, Central Java and West Kalimantan provinces.

"Depending on the case, there might have to be a repeat of the vote in some polling stations."

Gerindra, a populist party led by the former head of the notorious Kopassus special forces, Prabowo Subianto, said it would consider calling for a re-vote in some areas.

"There were many double names for voters. There were many eligible voters whose names weren't on the registration lists," party chairman Suhardi said.

"If we find enough proof of violations or mistakes in the procedures in one or more polling stations, then we'll ask for that area to recast their votes."

The People's Conscience Party of former army chief Wiranto also said the election might have to be repeated in the worst-affected polling stations.

"There were many logistical problems. Some of the ballot papers had already been ticked before people actually voted," party official Slamet Rujito said.

The election sets the stage for more important presidential elections in July, in which Yudhoyono is seeking a second five-year term.




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