Rumors that Indonesia might postpone the scheduled 2024 presidential elections caused thousands of students around the country to march in protest on Monday.
The students say postponing the vote would allow President Joko Widodo, or Jokowi as he goes by, to remain in office beyond a two-term limit. Widodo has denied the rumors.
“This needs to be explained so that there are no rumors circulating among people that the government is trying to postpone the election, or speculation about the extension of the president’s tenure or a related third term,” Widodo said at a Cabinet meeting on election preparations.
In front of the parliament building in Jakarta, police used tear gas and water cannons to try to end the protests. Most left after some politicians met with them and vowed to protect the constitution.
However, some politicians reportedly support an extension for Widodo, saying he needs more time to fix the country’s economy, which has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We demand that the lawmakers do not betray the country’s constitution by amending it,” Kaharuddin, a protest coordinator, said. “We want them to listen to people’s aspirations.”
Another protester, Muhammad Lutfi, blamed the country’s elites for trying to delay the elections.
A two-term limit for the president was established in 1999 as the first amendment to the country’s constitution. That came one year after pro-democracy protests caused dictator Suharto to step down after leading the country for decades.
Source: Voice of America