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Monday, March 20, 2023

Indonesia leader backs election body appeal against court ruling calling for poll delay

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo said on Monday he supports the country’s election commission in mounting an appeal against a controversial court ruling that calls for the 2024 presidential and general elections to be delayed.

His comments come after a Jakarta district court last week ordered the national poll body (KPU) to halt all election preparations on the back of a procedural complaint by an obscure party.

The court’s decision has reignited a debate in the world’s third-largest democracy about extending the president’s time in office, which is limited to two five-year terms by the constitution. Some senior political figures have backed the idea while others have warned it could roll back twenty years of democratic reforms brought in after decades of authoritarian rule.

Jokowi, as the president is commonly known, said on Monday the government hopes that election preparations are going ahead as planned.

“This is a controversy that has elicited pros and cons, but the government supports the KPU to file an appeal,” he told reporters in a video uploaded by the presidential secretariat.

He has previously said he rejects the idea of extending his tenure. The Constitutional Court also said in a separate case last week there could be no extension.

The election commission has said it will forge ahead with organising the polls and chairman Hasyim Asy’ari told Reuters on Monday it will “attempt a legal next step” in a higher court.

The Central Jakarta District Court’s ruling has been criticised by legal experts who say the judges acted beyond their jurisdiction.

A copy of the ruling seen by Reuters last week showed the judges concluded the complainant, Prima party, was unfairly denied the chance to submit documents required to contest elections, due partly to glitches with KPU’s software.

Multiple surveys show most Indonesians are against extending Jokowi’s time in office.

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