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CHURCHES CALLED TO PARTICIPATE IN VOTER EDUCATION

Updated: February 14, 1999 05:00 PM GMT
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Catholic and Protestant activists have called on the Churches in Indonesia to get involved in voter education in preparation for the upcoming general elections in June.

The Churches in Indonesia should take a pro-active role in educating voters so they "could properly exercise their rights and responsibility," some 60 Catholic and Protestant participants said in their statement, issued at the end of a seminar on voter education Feb. 1-3 in Semarang, Central Java.

The seminar was jointly organized by Gereja Kristen Jawa (Java Protestant Church), the Protestant-run Percik (Sprinkle) foundation, and the Forum Masyarakat Katolik Indonesia (Indonesian Catholic community forum) of Semarang archdiocese with the support of the Asia Foundation.

To prepare for the June 7 general elections, the Indonesian Churches should learn from the Churches in the Philippines and the Asia Foundation´s voter education workshops, the Church representatives said.

They added that such education is a success when it leads people to vote according to their conscience and the principles of democracy.

The Christian group also insisted that it does not matter whichever party wins in the forthcoming election. "What is most important is that the whole election process must be just, fair, safe and peaceful."

"For the future, it is important to build a political system which is more human and civilized with the implementation of universal values such as democracy and respect for human rights," the participants said.

They warned that any attempt to revive the authoritarian regime will only result in violence.

END

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