Relative Appeals to 'Uncle Obama' for Election Monitors in Indonesia

Saturday, 22 Mar 2014 06:40 PM

By Todd Beamon

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A distant nephew in Indonesia has asked President Barack Obama to send monitors to observe his nation's governmental elections in July.

"The 2014 legislative and presidential elections will be the most important in our country’s history," Raditya Putra Pratama Trisulo said in a letter dated Friday and published by The Hill. "We must ensure they are free, fair, credible and peaceful to consolidate the democratic gains we have made since our transition to representative government just over 15 years ago.

"To do so, we need the help of U.S. and international monitors to ensure a fair and equal vote for all," he said.

Raditya is a nephew of Obama’s maternal half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, the Hill reports. The president spent part of his childhood in Indonesia with her in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The Hill published the letter under the heading, "An open letter to Uncle Obama."

Raditya is seeking a seat in the Indonesian parliament. He told Obama that the current government — headed by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who is barred from seeking a third five-year term — is preventing impartial polling monitors from observing this year’s elections, the Hill reports.

Obama visited Indonesia in 2011 for the East Asia Summit, but canceled a trip to Asia in October because of the partial government shutdown. He was scheduled to stop in Indonesia on that trip.

The president is scheduled to visit Asia next month, but the country is not on the list, according to the Hill.

In his letter, Raditya noted that voters faced problems at the polls in Indonesia's first presidential election in 2009, saying that the vote "was plagued by incorrect voter registration information, lack of polling staff training, last-minute abandonment of the automated counting system over concerns of corruption, and various pockets of violence and intimidation.

"We cannot afford the same problems in the 2014 cycle," he said.

Indonesia held its first elections in 1999.

Raditya asked Obama and Congress to support the elections by sending observers from such organizations as International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, and the Carter Center, which was co-founded by former President Jimmy Carter.

Carter observed elections in Indonesia in 1999 and 2004.

"The stakes for free, fair, credible and peaceful elections in Indonesia could not be higher," Raditya said. "The environment for manipulation and fraud is ripe. We need the support of international election monitors, but the current Indonesian government is standing in the way.

"Mr. President, I urge you to stand with us in Indonesia," he added. "Together we can advance the cause of freedom and democracy in Indonesia and beyond."

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