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Indonesia Judicial Body To Question Judges Over Election Delay Ruling

A voter casts a ballot during elections in Jakarta, Indonesia April 17, 2019.
Reuters

Indonesia’s judicial oversight body on Friday said it would summon judges from a district court to explain what it called a “controversial” ruling that effectively ordered a delay in 2024 presidential and general elections.

Handling a lawsuit from an obscure party whose election registration was denied, the Central Jakarta district court on Thursday ruled the election commission must halt all of its election preparations for more than two years.

The decision, which would push back national polls until 2025 at the earliest, has drawn widespread criticism and questions about the court’s authority and why it deemed all election processes must be stopped.

“If there are strong suspicions that there was a foul play from the part of the judges, then the commission will probe said judges,” said Miko Ginting, a spokesperson for Indonesia’s Judicial Commission.

The court has yet to publish its full ruling and excerpts made available on its website did not provide an explanation. Zulkifli Atjo, a court spokesperson, said the decision was the prerogative of the judges.

The election commission, or KPU, on Thursday said it would appeal the decision and forge ahead with organising the polls.

The ruling has revived a debate regarding President Joko Widodo’s tenure, where some senior political figures openly back the idea of him staying beyond his second term, which ends next year, while others warn that would roll back two decades of hard-won democratic reforms.

Indonesia’s constitution limits a president to two terms and the Constitutional Court made clear in a ruling on another case on Tuesday that there could be no extension beyond that.

“If the discourse comes back to surface, it will create more uncertainties around the elections,” said Arya Fernandes, an analyst at Indonesia’s Centre for Strategic and International Studies, adding it would also create an unstable investment climate.

Jokowi, as the incumbent is popularly known, has previously said he rejects the idea of extending his time in office.

Jaleswari Pramodhawardani, a senior official at the office of Jokowi’s chief of staff, on Friday called for calm and said the government “is still committed” to hold elections in February next year.

Multiple surveys have showed most Indonesians are against extending Jokowi’s term.

Jokowi’s ruling party and the country’s chief security minister have opposed Thursday’s decision, saying a district court has no authority to decide election issues, echoing concerns from law experts.

Said Iqbal, chairman of the Labour Party, said workers would protest the decision as it goes against the Constitutional Court’s ruling that a sitting president’s tenure could not be extended beyond the existing limit.