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Six dead as Indonesians go to the polls -

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Six dead as Indonesians go to the polls

The World Today - Thursday, 9 April , 2009 12:30:00

Reporter: Geoff Thompson

ELEANOR HALL: To Indonesia now where election-related violence has killed six people in the
province of Papua.

Voting in the national parliamentary poll began earlier today with 170-million people eligible to
vote. And while President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has been running on his record and promising to
continue to tackle corruption, concerns remain about voting irregularities.

Joining us now from Jakarta is the ABC's correspondent, Geoff Thompson.

So Geoff tell us about this deadly violence in Papua.

GEOFF THOMPSON: Well Eleanor, we're getting very conflicting reports. The police spokesman Papua
confirm only one person being killed but people from the separatist movement if you like say that
six people are dead and the Associated Press is certainly reporting that as a confirmed figure.

Now it seems that overnight there have been attacks in at least four locations at an oil depot in
Biak and a couple of security posts at Abepura and also at a campus, a university campus in
Jayapura. And through these attacks and the response to them, it appears that at least six people
have been killed.

ELEANOR HALL: Is there opposition to the election in Papua?

GEOFF THOMPSON: Look there certainly is because, well from the separatist movement because they see
Indonesia's ownership if you like of that part of the world was done unfairly from the so-called
Act of Free Choice in the 1960s.

Now it is a low-level rebellion but it's also true that Papua is still pretty much run as a police
state and of course it's impossible for journalists such as myself to actually get there to see
what's really going on because we're effectively blacklisted and not allowed to travel there.

ELEANOR HALL: So how is voting going where you are now in Jakarta?

GEOFF THOMPSON: Look I'm standing in a 'kampung', that's Indonesian for a little village, in
central Jakarta and it's like a bit of a day out at the fair. People are sort of, there are stalls
selling fruit while people come and go from polling booths.

But even here you hear concern that people aren't being, aren't registered on the list and that
people who are registered on the list are actually dead and things like that. And the real concern
is that those sorts of problems could escalate if a significant number of the electorate feels
disenfranchised after today.

ELEANOR HALL: Well political analysts are predicting victory for the party of the incumbent
President Yudhoyono but is it likely to be straightforward?

GEOFF THOMPSON: Look it's expected to be that straightforward in the sense that his Democrat Party
will get the most seats in Parliament. He's unlikely to be able, almost certainly will be unable to
govern alone. He'll need to form a coalition with other parties.

Now it, there are wild cards in this election such as the other former general Prabowo Subianto.
Now he could get anything from three per cent to 15 per cent of the vote.

Now you know if President Yudhoyono's party can't get the coalition partners it needs and someone
like Prabowo Subianto who was once accused of attempting a coup in this country can get those
coalition partners, it begins to get more complicated for the incumbent President.

ELEANOR HALL: Why has SBY remained as popular as he is?

GEOFF THOMPSON: Look incumbency is a large part of it and it's also a period of Indonesian history
where not a lot has happened in the sense that, you know, he managed to achieve peace in Aceh;
there's been a sense of stability in the country which is unprecedented; there is economic growth -
while the rest of the world has been in a downturn Indonesia is still growing because it's so
reliant on domestic demand. And there is a real commitment to fighting corruption and economic
reform through his dynamic Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati.

Now all those things go in his favour but the opposite view is that he, he has support by default
if you like because there aren't many other exciting candidates opposing him.

ELEANOR HALL: Geoff Thompson in Jakarta, thank you. That's the ABC's Indonesia correspondent there.