Saturday, November 3, 2007

House out to finish political bills in 33 days

Ridwan Max Sijabat, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

In preparation for the 2009 elections and to ensure all involved parties are sufficiently readied, the House of Representatives has agreed to fast-track discussions around bills for political parties and general elections.

House speaker Agung Laksono presided over a leadership meeting Thursday discussing efforts to bring both bills to a House plenary session for endorsement by the end of this month -- with a view to passing the bills to law within 33 days.

"All faction chairmen are of the same opinion that the two bills will be deliberated either by the special committees or the working committees," Agung told reporters after the meeting, which was attended by all chairmen of House factions and the special committees tasked to deliberate the two bills.

"All committee members have to discipline themselves.

"This is important not only for the sake of the 2009 elections but also for a better democracy in the country."

Agung said the House would start deliberating the remaining bills on presidential elections and on the structure of the People's Consultative Assembly, House, regional representatives, provincial, and regency legislatures in January.

The newly-inaugurated General Elections Commission (KPU) has also asked the House to speed-up the deliberation of the four bills.

The KPU said it needed a legal basis to make preparations for the 2009 general elections, including the registration of eligible voters and the verification of eligible political parties.

Legislators Ferry Mursyidan Baldan and Ganjar Pranowo, who chair the special committee deliberating bills on general elections and the committee for the bills on political parties respectively said they would ask all factions to focus on the crucial issues.

"Political lobbying has begun, but communications with the civil society and experts will be intensified to encourage the factions to seek compromises on the crucial issues," Ganjar said.

Despite the additional allocation of time for the bills' deliberation, Ferry said it was not necessary for the committees to ask for more funds because the current budget had remaining funds.

Ferry declined to reveal the budget allocated for the deliberation of the two bills.

Both factions within the special committees deliberating the bills and the government were divided over issues on administrative requirements for the establishment of new political parties, party ideology and function, the quota for women in all parties, the dispute settlement mechanism and legal sanctions.

Issues around the bill on general elections included electoral and parliamentary thresholds, mapping of electoral districts, the number of seats in the House and provincial and regental legislatures, and voting rights of servicemen and sanctions in election violations.

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