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Indonesian presidential candidates share cordial lunch with President Jokowi amid ethical controversy

On Monday, the three leading 2024 Indonesian presidential hopefuls, Anies Baswedan, Ganjar Pranowo, and Prabowo Subianto, shared a lunch invitation from President Joko Widodo.

This unique gathering sparked ethical debates as legal experts questioned the President’s involvement, emphasizing that while there may be no explicit legal prohibition, ethical principles must be upheld to safeguard the integrity of the democratic process.

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INDONESIA: On Monday (30 Oct), the three presidential candidates for the upcoming 2024 Indonesian presidential election, namely Anies Baswedan, Ganjar Pranowo, and Prabowo Subianto, were invited to have lunch with President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) at the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta.

The lunch meeting aimed to discuss matters of national interest and promote an atmosphere of goodwill ahead of the upcoming election.

During the luncheon, as reported by Kompas.com, the three presidential hopefuls and President Jokowi were seated around a round dining table in a room within the palace. They engaged in conversation and shared smiles during the event, creating an amicable atmosphere.

President Joko Widodo. (Photo: Tempo.co)

Following the lunch meeting, Prabowo Subianto held a press conference and mentioned that the discussions during the luncheon remained at a general level.

He stated, “We had a general conversation,” and expressed his gratitude for the invitation.

According to Prabowo, such gatherings were rare, and he acknowledged that President Jokowi hoped for a harmonious and cooperative atmosphere among the political leaders.

President Jokowi advocates for a respectful electoral climate

In response to the meeting, President Jokowi expressed his desire for a peaceful 2024 election during a visit to Pasar Batu Bulan, Bali, on Tuesday (31 Oct).

He called upon the three presidential candidates to work together to ensure a peaceful electoral process, discouraging negative campaigning, defamation, and personal attacks.

Jokowi emphasized that the people expected the presidential candidates to engage in constructive debates based on their ideas and programs, rather than resorting to destructive tactics.

The involvement of the sitting President in a gathering with presidential candidates raised ethical concerns among legal experts.

Herdiansyah Hamzah, a constitutional law expert at Mulawarman University, argued that such interference is ethically questionable and, to some extent, violates the principles of good governance.

Herdi pointed out that the law does not explicitly prohibit the President from intervening in the democratic process, but ethical standards are the core of the law.

He stated that if the President follows the law but disregards ethical standards, it’s akin to a lifeless body with a soul, heart, and mind absent.

He emphasized that the President is bound by the ethical principles of impartiality and should refrain from favouring any specific candidate for personal gain.

In Herdi’s view, the President should uphold his national responsibilities, prioritizing the welfare of the country over personal or political interests. Any display of partiality by the President poses a threat to the electoral process and democracy.

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