Controversy Surrounds Indonesian Election, Jokowi Under Fire for Alleged Interference

Controversy Surrounds Indonesian Election, President Jokowi Under Fire for Alleged Interference.lelemuku.com.jpg

JAKARTA, LELEMUKU.COM - President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo of Indonesia is facing criticism as the country approaches its upcoming election. 

Concerns have arisen over allegations of interference with the electoral process, leading to protests from students and academia. Despite Jokowi's assurance that he wouldn't intervene, skepticism remains due to past statements.

The election, slated for February 14th, has been marked by controversy surrounding partisanship, candidate eligibility, and ethical concerns. 

University students have marched in protest, accusing Jokowi of favoring certain candidates, particularly Prabowo Subianto, who has a controversial human rights record.

To draw attention to the allegedly undemocratic developments,  scores of university students marched from Trisakti University to the State Palace in the capital on Wednesday afternoon.

They held banners that read “Jokowi is deceitful,” and “Reject the unfair election,” local media and news agency Reuters reported.

“We are done with the president’s intervention in the 2024 election especially to help a human rights criminal win the election,” Tegar Afriansyah, who organized the protest, told Reuters.

He was referring to one of the three presidential candidates, Prabowo Subianto, who is also defense minister. Jokowi is ineligible for a third five-year term because of constitutional limits.

In addition to choosing a new president, Indonesians will vote for various other officials. Jokowi's son, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, has entered the race as Prabowo's running mate, sparking debate over dynastic politics and nepotism.

Critics argue that Jokowi has strayed from democratic principles by allegedly promoting his relatives and engaging in unethical power struggles. Despite denying official endorsement of any candidate, Jokowi's actions have raised suspicions of bias toward Prabowo and Gibran.

“Our country has lost its way because of unethical and deceitful power struggles,” Harkristuti Harkrisnowo, a professor at the University of Indonesia, told a press conference in West Java last week, The Jakarta Post reported.

Responding to the criticism, Jokowi said it was everyone’s democratic right to speak out, Kompas, another Indonesian news outlet, quoted him as saying.

“Yes, that is democracy, everyone is allowed to speak and express their opinions. Please do so,” Jokowi said.  

Recent polls suggest Prabowo holds a significant lead over other contenders, aided by his portrayal as a relatable figure and support from influential groups like Nahdlatul Ulama. However, accusations of using state resources to boost Prabowo's campaign have surfaced, said Mada Sukmajati, a lecturer at Gadjah Mada University.

Nahdlatul Ulama has not formally said it backs Prabowo, but its leaders have voiced support for him.

“There’s also the use of state officials and resources, from ministers to village heads, to support his campaign, thanks to Jokowi’s intervention,” Mada told BenarNews. 

Moreover, concerns have emerged regarding irregularities in the election process, such as age requirement rule changes benefiting Gibran and instances of foul play at campaign events. Analysts warn that these ethical breaches could undermine the integrity of the election and the country's democracy.

As Indonesia navigates through this crucial electoral period, the fairness and transparency of the process remain under scrutiny, highlighting the need for upholding democratic values and ensuring accountability in governance.

Analysts said this year’s election poses a new challenge for Indonesia’s democracy, as it tests its institutions and the maturity of its political actors.

“The ethical violations have caused a serious erosion of democracy,” said Siti Zuhro, a researcher at the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN), in a discussion on Wednesday titled “Democracy on the Edge.” 

Firman Noor, another political analyst, warned that the breaches and abuse of power could undermine the fairness and integrity of the elections.

“I’m afraid the (election) outcome would be invalid,” Firman said, meaning someone could challenge the result because of the ethical breaches.

“The government must follow the law, not twist it, and not create dynasties or let oligarchy take over.” (BenarNews/ Albert Batlayeri)

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