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Students protest rumoured delay of 2024 election

JAKARTA, INDONESIA (AP) – Thousands of students marched in cities around Indonesia yesterday to protest against rumours that the government is considering postponing the 2024 presidential election to allow President Joko Widodo to remain in office beyond the two-term legal limit, calling it a threat to the country’s democracy.

They demonstrated in front of the Parliament building in the capital, Jakarta, where police used tear gas and water cannons to try to disperse the crowds, and in large cities all over the country.

Widodo denied on Sunday that his administration is attempting to delay the vote after senior politicians, including a close ally, supported the idea, and ordered the Cabinet to explain that the election has been set for February 14, 2024.

“This needs to be explained so that there are no rumours circulating among people that the government is trying to postpone the election, or speculation about the extension of the president’s tenure or a related third term,” Widodo said at a Cabinet meeting on election preparations.

Authorities in Jakarta blocked streets leading to the heavily guarded presidential palace and Parliament building, where protesters marched to demand that lawmakers not delay the election or amend the constitution to allow Widodo to run again in 2024. “We demand that the lawmakers do not betray the country’s constitution by amending it,” said Kaharuddin, a protest coordinator. “We want them to listen to people’s aspirations.”

Students shout slogans during a rally outside the Parliament in Jakarta, Indonesia. PHOTO: AP

Most of the students began to disperse peacefully after representatives of lawmakers approached them and vowed to protect the constitution and ensure there will be no postponement of the election.

However, hundreds of non-student protesters tried to force their way into the building by throwing rocks and bottles at police, who responded with tear gas and water cannons, witnesses said.

“We want to ensure the safety of the students who want to voice their aspirations as guardians of democracy,” said National Police Chief Listio Sigit Prabowo, “But we must also secure this process so that no intruders can use this action to create chaos.”

Presidents are limited to two terms under the first amendment to the Indonesian Constitution.

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