To deter intimidation, this paper argues that election monitors should begin deployment to Aceh long before the 9 April election.
Despite rhetorical commitments on the part of all contenders to a peaceful election, the potential for isolated acts of violence between now and then is high; the potential for trouble after the results are announced may be even higher, especially if it is a close election. Getting as many trained monitors to Aceh as possible in the coming weeks is critical.
Whether violence materialises may depend on several factors:
the number of election monitors deployed and the speed with which they get to Aceh. The campaign is already well underway for all practical purposes, even though officially it does not begin until 22 March. The monitoring needs to start now, not days before the election;
the speed with which the police can identify and arrest the gunmen responsible for shootings in December 2011 and January 2012 that took the lives of ten men, most of them poor Javanese workers. The killings are widely believed to have been politically motivated;
the ability of the election oversight committee (Panitia Pengawas Pilkada) to investigate reported violations and quickly take action; and
the ability of leading candidates to control their supporters in the Aceh Transition Committee (Komite Peralihan Aceh, KPA), the organisation of former guerrilla commanders.