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Civil society warns Jokowi over bias and power abuse in 2024 Presidential Election

Indonesian civil society groups demand President Jokowi’s apology and urge neutrality ahead of Indonesia’s 2024 election on 14 February, threatening legal action.

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INDONESIA – A coalition of civil society organizations has formally issued a legal warning to President Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, concerning about the fairness and integrity of the upcoming 2024 presidential election in Indonesia.

The coalition, comprising 35 organizations, including the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS) and the Legal Aid Institute (LBH), alongside five individuals, sent the legal notice to the State Secretariat on Friday (9 Feb).

The document outlines five demands addressed to President Jokowi, including a call for him to apologize to the Indonesian people for what they perceive as actions neglectful of ethical standards. The coalition’s deadline for response is set until 14 February.

Among the demands, the coalition urges President Jokowi to retract statements suggesting that the president can campaign and take sides during elections.

They also insist that Jokowi ensures the neutrality of government officials, particularly ministers, and halts the distribution of social assistance for political gain ahead of the voting day on 14 February and the potential runoff.

Furthermore, the coalition demands that Jokowi instruct the Indonesian National Police, Armed Forces, and Civil Service apparatus to maintain neutrality and enforce strict penalties for any deviation from neutrality and professionalism.

Dimas Bagus Arya, Coordinator of KontraS, described the legal warning as a manifestation of public concern for the nation’s well-being. Speaking at a press conference held at the LBH office in Central Jakarta on Friday (9 Feb), Dimas emphasized the seriousness of the coalition’s action.

“This is not a trivial matter or mere lip service. We believe there is no reason not to hold the president accountable within the legal framework,” Dimas asserted.

The coalition highlighted several alleged missteps by President Jokowi, including intervention in the presidential election process, using state power to promote his son Gibran Rakabuming as a vice-presidential candidate, and issuing Presidential Regulation No. 53 of 2023, allowing officials to retain their positions while running for president or vice president.

They accused Jokowi of leaning towards dishonest practices, especially in permitting officials to campaign, and highlighted instances of intimidation against individuals critical of Jokowi’s actions regarding the election, such as the reported intimidation of a University of Indonesia professor after expressing criticism.

Muhamad Isnur, Chairman of the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation, hinted at potential legal action if the president fails to address their concerns. He stated during the press conference that the coalition may resort to litigation, possibly through the State Administrative Court (PTUN) or district courts.

Dimas Bagus Arya elaborated on the potential legal avenues, mentioning the possibility of filing lawsuits for unlawful conduct through civil courts. He stressed that the coalition would evaluate the impact of Jokowi’s interventions on the 2024 presidential election.

The coalition sees legal warnings as part of efforts to reform governance and uphold moral standards in leadership.

As of now, there has been no official response from the Palace or the State Secretariat regarding the civil society coalition’s legal warning.

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