Badung (ANTARA) - The 13th Bali Democracy Forum (BDF), scheduled for Thursday, will focus on the challenges faced by democratic countries in the Asia-Pacific region amid COVID-19, a high-ranking Foreign Affairs Ministry official said today.
Initiated by Indonesia in 2008, the annual forum aims to make democracy a strategic agenda in the Asia-Pacific region. For 13 years, the forum, led by Indonesia, has facilitated dozens of meetings and dialogues on democracy and its challenges.
"Democracy and COVID-19’ has been chosen as the main theme of the forum for this year as many countries are currently struggling to control the COVID-19 pandemic and uphold democratic practices at the same time," director general for information and public diplomacy at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Teuku Faizasyah, said on the sidelines of the meeting's preparations on Wednesday.
The COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed more than 1.5 million lives worldwide, has forced dozens of countries to impose restrictions to control infections, he noted.
In some cases, the restrictive policies have barred people from exercising their civil rights, and observe democratic values and practices, he added.
Baca juga: BDF diharapkan perkuat praktik demokrasi di Asia Pasifik
Therefore, the forum is expected to focus on finding ways to strike a balance between controlling the pandemic and maintaining democratic practices, such as ensuring people’s full participation in elections, Faizasyah added.
Indonesia and other countries, such as the US, have now gained experience in organizing a safe election amid the COVID-19 pandemic, he noted.
Voting was held for Indonesia’s simultaneous regional elections today in 270 regions, comprising 9 provinces, 224 districts, and 37 cities. The holding of elections amid the pandemic has raised concerns among some groups in the country, including health workers and epidemiologists. But, the General Elections Commission, on many occasions, has assured people of the strict observance of health protocols at polling stations, which number over 200 thousand.
In light of the issue, the 13th Bali Democracy Forum is expected to serve as a platform for other countries to share their experiences and best practices in protecting their democracy amid the pandemic, Faizasyah said.
Baca juga: BDF ke-13 akan tunjukkan kesiapan Bali buka wisata
The one-day forum will follow the hybrid physical and virtual format, with virtual participants joining the meeting via video conferencing. The main event will be broadcast live online, he said.
More than 100 delegates have confirmed their participation at the virtual meeting. So far, 25 heads of foreign delegations have confirmed they will attend the 13th Bali Democracy Forum.
Indonesia, the host country, has limited physical attendance at the venue in Nusa Dua, Bali, to 50 persons, Faizasyah said. (INE)