PKB’s Khofifah and Herman Back in East Java Governor’s Race

The General Elections Commission (KPU) approved the National Mandate Party’s (PKB) East Java gubernatorial candidates on Thursday, overturning a previous decision made by the local election advisory body.

“Khofifah Indar Parawansa and Herman Surjadi Sumawiredja have been declared as official candidates in 2013 East Java gubernatorial election,” KPU chairman Husni Kamil Manik said in a press conference on Thursday.

The pair were previously declared ineligible to run after the East Java KPU found that two of their backing parties — the Sovereignty Party (PK) and the United Indonesian Nahdlatul Ummah Party (PPNUI) — had already thrown their support behind other candidates. With the support of the small parties, Khofifah and Herman fall 0.19 percent short of the threshold, the East Java KPU said.

Local PKB officials accused the board of bias and threatened to file a lawsuit against the commission. The national office reviewed the case and sided in favor of Khofifah and Herman. The national office will run the East Java election itself to prevent further issues from arising, Husni said.

“[This is] to guarantee that the East Java election happens on schedule,” he said.

Three East Java commissioners were suspended over the decision, Husni said. East Java KPU chief Andry Dewanto Achmad was warned and commissioner Sayekti Suandiyah was “rehabilitated,” he added.

The PKB candidates’ campaign head Saifullah Ma’ashum said his team was prepared to re-enter the race. The KPU, he added, should saddle the commissioners with harsher sanctions.

“The temporary suspension… is too lenient,” he said. “I hope this won’t happen again.”

Six candidates will run on three tickets in the East Java governor’s election, with independent candidates Eggy Sujana and Sihat and the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle’s (PDI-P) Bambang Dwi Hartono and Said AbdullahSurabaya running against the Democratic Party’s incumbents Soekarwo and Saifullah Yusuf.

The vote will be held on August 29.