Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has said that the general elections will be held as scheduled on Feb. 14, 2024, quashing rumors that his government is trying to delay the polls and extend his term beyond the constitutional limit.
“Let the people know that the stages and schedules for the simultaneous general elections and regional elections have been set,” the President told a Cabinet meeting on the 2024 simultaneous general and regional elections on Sunday.
“These need to be made clear to avoid speculation [. . .] that the government is trying to delay elections or speculation on a presidential term extension and also a third term.” The Cabinet meeting was held at the Bogor Palace in West Java and attended by, among others, Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD, Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Coordinating Economic Affairs Minister Airlangga Hartarto and Home Minister Tito Karnavian.
Over the past few months, numerous politicians – particularly those within the ruling coalition – and Cabinet ministers have supported a proposal to extend Jokowi’s final term by delaying the 2024 elections, despite strong opposition from other parties.
Early this month, Jokowi attended the national gathering of the Village Administration Association (Adepsi) at the Senayan sports center in Central Jakarta, during which thousands of village heads reportedly chanted their support for the extension.
But last week, Jokowi ordered his ministers to stop calling for an extension of his term or the postponement of the 2024 elections.
He asked them to instead focus on handling the rising threat of inflation but stopped short of outright rejecting the idea of having his term extended.
Jokowi’s statement came on a day before a larger students rally is to be held on Monday with the main aim of protesting against proposals looking to extend his final term in office past its constitutionally mandated date.
A string of student-led protests has been held across the country, including in Bogor in West Java, Makassar in South Sulawesi and Semarang in Central Java in the past week.
But Monday’s demonstration is shaping to be larger, with around 1,000 university students from different schools across the country under the National Association of University Student Executive Bodies (BEM SI) banner set to gather in front of the State Palace in Central Jakarta.
The Jakarta Police have planned to redirect traffic and close several main roads around the State Place starting Monday morning.
BEM SI spokesperson Luthfi Yufrizal said on Friday that on top of the list of student demands was for Jokowi to “firmly reject” a postponement of the 2024 elections or a third-term presidency, calling both “a clear betrayal of the Constitution”, Kompas reported.
According to Luthfi, university students were also calling on the President to review the New Capital Law, especially its controversial provisions surrounding the project’s environmental, legal, social, ecological, political and economic impacts.
The New Capital Law was passed by lawmakers following speedy deliberations in January, but it has met continuous resistance, with a number of groups having already filed a judicial review against it at the Constitutional Court.
BEM SI’s third demand calls on Jokowi to stabilize prices and maintain the availability of basic household commodities. This has come from rising global commodity prices and an energy crisis that has been exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine creeping into the country, with staple food and fuel prices soaring in the past few months.
Political analyst Ujang Komarudin said the student demonstrations were a result of Jokowi’s lackluster response to talks of a term extension.
“Students still have doubts about Jokowi’s indecisiveness,” Ujang, executive director of the Indonesia Political Review, said on Saturday as quoted by Tempo. “Students would not take to the streets if Jokowi had given a clear, firm and straightforward statement [of rejection].”
In response to the planned rally, the government has said that while holding demonstrations were part of the country’s democracy, it needed to be carried out “in an orderly” manner.
“We will not hinder any political discourse from the public, even with all its pros and cons, because that is the kind of freedom we used to fight for,” Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD said in a statement over the weekend.
The government, Mahfud said, has coordinated with law enforcement officials in order to ensure that the demonstration would go smoothly but emphasized there should be no violence or the use of weapons by law enforcement officers.
THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK