Former Bali Police Chief Voted Island’s New Governor

DENPASAR ~ Bali’s much-lauded ex-police chief I Made Mangku Pastika was voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday as the island’s next governor, replacing incumbent Dewa Made Beratha, whose term concludes in August.

Counting of ballot papers is not due to be completed until the weekend, but with over 60 percent tallied as of Thursday, Pastika is assured of victory.

The win represents a second straight triumph in Bali for the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) of former president Megawati Sukarnoputri, whose maternal grandmother was Balinese and who herself has announced a second run for the presidency in elections to be held next year.

Government and private offices were closed by order of Beratha, to enable people to vote, as more than 2.6 million registered voters went to polling stations across the island to cast their votes for one of three candidate teams.

Police reported no disturbances or unrest, saying the election day ran smoothly in all eight regencies. Some 7,000 police officers were deployed at more than 5,600 polling stations around the island, Bali Police spokesman Antonious Reniban said.

Pastika, a charismatic individual and devout Hindu, was heralded for staunch cooperation with Australian Federal Police following the bombings of October 2002 that resulted in the swift arrests of dozens of suspects that were later jailed or sentenced to death, had largely run on a platform of security.

In recent interviews with Australian media, Pastika said security was still not optimal in Bali and that if he were voted Bali’s next governor, he would take sterner measures to secure the island.

Pastika’s running mate was current Denpasar Mayor A.A Puspayoga, who will be sworn in as Bali’s deputy governor.

Voting day was unseasonably rainy in many parts, with thick, gray cloud cover. That did not deter voter turnout, however, with the Bali Election Commission reporting that participation was high at just over 77 percent.

Cok Budhi Suryawan and Nyoman Suweta of the Golkar Party and Gede Winasa and Alit Putra of a coalition of parties were also running for the island’s top job. They are predicted to come in second and third place with 25 percent and 18 percent respectively.

Pastika, who was appointed the country’s drug-busting chief after his stint as Bali Police chief, appeared to be the most populist candidate, largely due to local and foreign media coverage of him for his work in rounding up bombing suspects. Some voters The Bali Times spoke to just before Wednesday’s vote said that despite widespread advertising of all three contenders, they were unaware of the other candidates.

“I’m voting for Pastika … because he’s the only one I know. I haven’t heard anything about the others,” said a waitress serving seafood to tourists at Jimbaran Bay.

Analysts said Pastika’s win augured well for Bali’s booming tourism industry, saying his international outlook, strong command of English and adherence to strict security would bolster the vital economic sector.

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