Staff writer

In a show of its firm commitment to assisting democratic reforms in Indonesia, Japan will provide several billion yen in aid for the country’s widely watched general election scheduled for June 7, government sources said Wednesday.

The sources said that the United Nations Development Program has informally asked Japan, the United States and some other industrialized countries to provide a total of $100 million — about 12 billion yen at the current exchange rate — to assist the Indonesian poll.

In response to the request, Japan is now considering providing between 3 billion yen and 5 billion yen for the purchase of ballots and ballot boxes and other purposes, although the exact amount of aid probably will not be nailed down until late this month, the sources said.

“It is very likely that Japan will become the biggest financial contributor to international assistance efforts for the Indonesian election, followed by the U.S.,” one source said.

The sources also said the planned Japanese assistance money for the Indonesian election will be provided in the form of grant-in-aid — a type of official development assistance. The other two types of Japanese ODA are low-interest official yen loans and technical cooperation.

The UNDP agreed with Jakarta early last month to provide technical assistance for the June election. But neither UNDP resident official Ravi Rajan nor Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas, who signed the agreement on the assistance, disclosed the amount.

Under the agreement, the UNDP will coordinate and channel all international technical assistance to the electoral process, train poll workers and facilitate logistic coordination of international observers.

The U.N. body will also provide assistance for voter education activities, including promoting campaigns on citizens’ rights and responsibilities in the electoral process and improving public awareness of political laws and electoral procedures. It plans to maintain neutrality and will not by itself carry out election monitoring.

The sources said that among industrialized countries, Japan, the U.S. and Australia are expected to become the three largest financial contributors.

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