Students rallied outside parliament in capital Jakarta, protesting against rising fuel and food costs and the prospect of President Joko Widodo outstaying his two-term limit.

Crowds of demonstrators were seen running away from the scene outside parliament in Jakarta, according to a Reuters witness, while Kompas TV said rocks had been thrown into the complex.
Crowds of demonstrators were seen running away from the scene outside parliament in Jakarta, according to a Reuters witness, while Kompas TV said rocks had been thrown into the complex. (AP)

Thousands of students have marched in cities around Indonesia to protest against rumours that the government is considering postponing the 2024 presidential election.

Indonesian police fired tear gas and water cannon on Monday to disperse a group of protestors outside parliament in the capital Jakarta. There were no immediate reports of violence or injuries.

“We demand that the lawmakers do not betray the country’s constitution by amending it,” said Kaharuddin, a protest coordinator.

The protesters chanted about protecting the country’s democratic progress, and also against soaring fuel and food prices.

Authorities in Jakarta blocked streets leading to the heavily guarded presidential palace and Parliament building, where protesters attempted to march.

Several rallies took place across Indonesia, including in South Sulawesi, West Java and Jakarta.

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The protests are not associated with any particular party or group, and are led by students, who historically have been a driving force of political change in Indonesia.
The protests are not associated with any particular party or group, and are led by students, who historically have been a driving force of political change in Indonesia. (AP)

Rumours of election delay

The delay would allow President Joko Widodo to remain in office beyond the two-term legal limit, calling it a threat to the country's democracy.

Jokowi, as the president is known, on Sunday sought to dampen speculation of a plan being hatched by his allies to keep him in power longer.

“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,” Jokowi said at a Cabinet meeting on election preparations.

Jokowi has retained a high approval rating since he was first elected in 2014, but a recent survey by pollster Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting (SMRC) showed more than 70 percent of Indonesians reject the extension plan.

Presidents are limited to two terms under the first amendment to the Indonesian Constitution, which was passed in 1999, a year after dictator Suharto was toppled by massive pro-democracy protests.

University students have traditionally been at the forefront of efforts to protect Indonesia's democratic gains, after taking to the streets in 1998 during huge protests that helped topple former strongman President Suharto.

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The idea of extending the president's tenure has gained momentum lately in the world's third-largest democracy after some influential political figures publicly backed it.
The idea of extending the president's tenure has gained momentum lately in the world's third-largest democracy after some influential political figures publicly backed it. (AFP)
Source: TRTWorld and agencies