Indonesian leader denies delaying 2024 elections to extend term

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) – Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Sunday denied that his administration was attempting to delay the 2024 presidential elections after senior politicians, including his close aides, cut his term to a two-term. had supported the idea of ​​extending beyond the legal mandate of the

His statement came a day after students planned to hold mass protests in the capital, Jakarta and several other cities to protest the alleged plan they say could threaten democracy. Student protests in Indonesia often turn violent.

During a cabinet meeting to discuss preparations for the 2024 elections, Widodo ordered his ministers to publicly state that all phases and schedules for the elections had been set.

Widodo said in remarks released by his office, “This needs to be clarified so that there is no rumor among the people that the government is trying to postpone the election or speculation about the extension of the President’s term or a related third term.” Huh.” Official YouTube channel. “Because clearly we have agreed that the election will be held on February 14, 2024.”

Powerful figures, including cabinet minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan and the ruling coalition’s president of the Golkar party Airlanga Hartarto, have suggested that the elections should be postponed.

Widodo’s close aide Pandajaitan recently claimed that data shows 110 million Indonesians support a delay in the election. It was not clear what data he was referring to.

A recent report by Indonesia’s prestigious pollster Kompas indicates that Widodo is extremely popular with a public trust rating of over 70% in the archipelago nation of more than 270 million people. However, a survey by Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting revealed that more than 70% of people reject any plan to continue in their position.

The two-term presidential limit was the focus of the First Amendment to the Indonesian constitution in 1999, a year after dictator Suharto was toppled due to massive pro-democracy protests.

Suharto ruled Indonesia for more than three decades through an authoritarian, often violent regime. Under his rule, corruption and rights abuses became rampant as the elite plundered the economy. His downfall marked the beginning of a democracy in Indonesia and term limits are in place to prevent a repetition of his authoritarian past.

Last Wednesday, Widodo asked his ministers to address the country’s rising inflation rather than stir up controversy around the 2024 election.

“No one (the President) extends tenure or delays elections. Not anymore!” said Widodo.

In June last year, he said at a news conference that he plans to abide by the constitution when his supporters began to implement the idea that his term could be extended legally through constitutional amendment or election delay. can go.

Supporters argued it was necessary to give Widodo more time to deal with the recessionary economy’s recovery during the two-year pandemic, and allow him to complete his agenda, including a $35 billion capital transfer project for the island of Borneo. Went.

Despite the denial, doubts remain about his motives.

“People are still confused about Jokowi’s indecision about a third term,” said Ujang Komarudin, a political analyst at Al-Azhar Indonesia University, using Widodo’s popular nickname. “The alleged plans are far from the constitution and would be a major blow to Indonesia’s democratic reform,” he said, adding that it could not stop students from taking to the streets.

Widodo took the oath of champion democracy for his second and final five-year term in October 2019 and took bold action against poverty and corruption in the world’s most Muslim-populated country.

Known for his simple style, Widodo is also the first president of the super-rich and often corrupt political, business and military elite outside the country. He grew up in a rented bamboo shack on the banks of a flood-prone river in the city of Solo on the island of Java, and often presents himself as a man of the people.

His popular appeal helped him win previous elections for mayor of Solo and governor of Jakarta.

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