August 2023 | Parliament announces plans to amend constitution
Indonesia’s parliament announced plans to amend the constitution to permit the delay of elections in the event of an emergency. The speaker of the upper house of parliament also suggested that these changes should once again make the upper house the highest state institution, as it was under former dictator and president Suharto. The latter proposal was condemned by activists and legal experts, as it would grant parliament the power to end the direct election of presidents. Although the proposal to introduce a framework to delay elections caused less controversy and parliament stressed it would not amend the constitution before February 2024 elections, it is the latest of many explicit or implicit suggestions from allies of President Joko Widodo that he be allowed to stay on past his constitutionally-required term limit or that elections be delayed.
June 2023 | Novel reparations plan draws criticism
President Joko Widodo announced an unprecedented programme to pay reparations to victims of human rights abuses by the Indonesian state on 27 June, which could conceivably cover the over 500,000 killed and million jailed in twelve separate periods between 1965-2003. However, the programme is only open to victims who have been positively identified by the government, which Indonesia’s Human Rights Commissioner said numbers only 6,400. The Indonesian branch of Amnesty International welcomed the program as a positive step, but criticized it for offering only “token compensation” and failing to address the issue of holding the perpetrators of the abuses accountable.
May 2023 | Communications minister arrested on corruption charges
Indonesian Communications Minister Johnny G. Plate was arrested on 17 May, making him the fifth senior cabinet member in President Joko Widodo’s administration to face corruption charges. The charges relate to the procurement of 4,200 mobile communications towers, but the minister’s precise alleged role remains unclear.
April 2023 | Surprise ruling over election overturned
A surprise 2 March decision by the Central Jakarta district court to postpone the 2024 national elections for two years was overturned on 11 April. The initial decision had launched weeks of political uncertainty and speculation that President Joko Widodo was seeking to extend his rule beyond constitutionally mandated term limits. Joko Widodo has repeatedly denied he plans to seek another term, but the subject has been raised by supporters. In overturning the decision, the Jakarta High Court ruled the lower court had no legal authority to weigh in on the matter.