Indonesia elections: Hundreds of officials die ‘from overwork’ after biggest single-day ballot ever

More than 1,800 staff ill as concerns grow over rising death toll

Zamira Rahim
Sunday 28 April 2019 15:28 BST
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Indonesian voters cast their ballots
Indonesian voters cast their ballots

More than 270 election staff have died in Indonesia, officials say – ten days after the country held the world’s biggest single-day vote.

According to one official, the workers have mostly died of fatigue-related illnesses caused by long hours spent counting millions of ballot papers by hand.

A further 1,878 workers involved in overseeing the ballot have fallen ill, said a spokesperson for Indonesia’s General Elections Commission (KPU).

Voting is still ongoing but concern is growing over the number of deaths. The country’s health ministry has also urged medical facilities to care for sick election staff.

Indonesia’s election commission has been criticised for its treatment of workers.

“The KPU is not prudent in managing the workload of staff,” said Ahmad Muzani, the deputy campaign chairman for candidate Prabowo Subianto, according to news site Kumparan.com.

The country held elections on 17 April, marking the first time it had combined a presidential ballot with national and regional parliamentary ones.

The decision to combine the votes on a single day was taken to cut costs.

Officials estimated that around 80 per cent of 193 million people took part.

Each person cast up to five ballot papers in more than 800,000 polling stations across eight hours.

Independent pollsters said Joko Widodo, the incumbent president, had won the election.

The former furniture salesman’s 2014 victory was seen as breaking the hold on the power of Indonesia’s deeply entrenched military and political elites.

Prabowo Subianto’s campaign has claimed widespread cheating and both candidates have declared victory.

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The KPU will conclude vote counting and announce winners of the presidential and parliamentary elections on 22 May.

Additional reporting by agencies

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