JAKARTA, Indonesia: Hundreds of Indonesian students and activists are set to stage protests on February 12, expressing concerns over outgoing President Joko Widodo’s perceived abuse of power to influence voters in the upcoming presidential election.
Organizers of the protests allege that President Jokowi’s actions favor front runner Prabowo Subianto, undermining the democratic process.
President Jokowi, although not explicitly endorsing any candidate, has been prominently featured alongside Mr. Prabowo in public appearances, raising questions about his neutrality. Compounding these concerns is the fact that Jokowi’s eldest son is running as vice-president on the same ticket as Prabowo.
Opinion surveys indicate that Prabowo could secure over 50 percent of the votes on February 14, potentially winning in a single round, with rivals Anies Baswedan and Ganjar Pranowo trailing significantly. Critics argue that Jokowi’s perceived lack of neutrality gives Prabowo an unfair advantage, eroding the principles of democracy.
Protest organizers, such as Mr. Aksi Gejayan Memanggil in Yogyakarta, contend that Jokowi’s actions stifle dissenting voices and compromise democratic values. Similar protests are planned in Jakarta by various rights groups, reflecting widespread concerns across the nation.
The planned protests follow the release of a documentary titled “Dirty Vote” by Indonesian investigative journalist Dandhy Laksono, alleging the misuse of state resources to favor Mr. Prabowo. While the film has garnered significant attention, Reuters could not independently verify the allegations made.
Prabowo’s campaign team has vehemently denied the accusations, dismissing them as defamatory. The government, meanwhile, denies any political interference, asserting that social welfare programs are not being exploited for electoral gain.
As Indonesia enters a cooling-off period before the election, authorities are removing campaign materials, and candidates are barred from active campaigning. To maintain security during this period, around 25,000 anti-riot personnel will be deployed by Indonesia’s police.
The planned protests underscore growing concerns about the integrity of the electoral process and the need for transparent and fair elections to uphold democracy in Indonesia.