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272 Election Staff Die Counting Votes In Indonesia

More than 270 election workers have died in Indonesia while counting votes.

Election officials in the country say the workers died mostly of fatigue-related  illnesses as a result of counting millions of ballot papers by hand for long hours.

Arief Priyo Susanto, spokesman of the General Elections Commission, said 1,878 other staff have also fallen ill.

About seven million people are helping to count and monitor the April 17 election.

Staff were expected to work through the night in inconducive conditions, which reportedly took a serious physical toll on many of them.

The elections was the first time Indonesia, a country of 260 million people, combined the presidential vote with national and regional parliamentary ballots, in order to save money.

Around 80 percent of the 193 million eligible voters cast their votes in more than 800,000 polling stations.

But the huge numbers have taken a toll on temporary election staff, who do not undergo medical examination before starting work like civil servants.

 The KPU spokesman said 272 election workers died from overwork-related illnesses.

The election commission says it plans to compensate families of the deceased workers £1,930 each. The amount is said to be equivalent to one year’s minimum wage pay in Indonesia, according to the Nikkei Asian Review.

Critics say the government was not prudent for combining the elections, and creating unrealistic expectations for temporary staff.

Both President Joko Widodo and opposition presidential candidate, Prabowo Subianto, have declared victory, though results so far suggested  that Widodo won the election by around 9-10 percentage points.

The KPU is expected to finish counting the votes and announce winners on May 22.

About Tony Nwanne

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