© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A voter casts a ballot during elections in Jakarta, Indonesia April 17, 2019. REUTERS/Edgar Su/File Photo
JAKARTA (Reuters) – An Indonesian labour party said on Friday its members will protest against a controversial court ruling that this week ordered the country’s poll body (KPU) to delay the 2024 presidential and general elections.
The Central Jakarta district court ruled on Thursday that KPU must halt all election preparations for more than two years and effectively delay the February, 2024 elections. The decision, which has drawn widespread criticism, stemmed from a lawsuit filed by an obscure party after its application to contest elections was rejected last year.
KPU said it would appeal the ruling while forging 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 in office beyond his second term, which ends next year, while others warn such a move would roll back two decades of hard-won democratic reforms.
Indonesia’s constitution mandates a two-term limit for presidents and vice presidents 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, a political analyst at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Indonesia, 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 Jokowi’s chief of staff office, said on Friday the government “is still committed” to hold the elections on time and called for calm.
Multiple polls have showed most Indonesians are against extending Jokowi’s term.
It was not immediately clear why the court ordered all election processes to stop, which at the earliest would push elections for a new president and legislature back to 2025.
Jokowi’s ruling party and the country’s chief security minister said a district court has no authority to decide on election issues, echoing concerns from law experts.
Said Iqbal, chairman of the Labour Party, said workers would protest the district court’s decision as it goes against a recent Constitutional Court ruling which effectively vetoed the extension of a sitting president’s tenure.
“The Labour Party will fight against the ruling to delay the elections,” he said. He did not say when the protest would take place.