© Reuters. A university student wears a joker mask during a protest against Indonesia’s outgoing President Joko Widodo’s perceived interference in the February 14th election, in Jakarta, Indonesia, February 7, 2024. REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana/File Photo
By Ananda Teresia
JAKARTA (Reuters) – Hundreds of Indonesian students and activists will stage protests on Monday over what they see as outgoing President Joko Widodo’s abuse of power to sway voters in this week’s election in favour of frontrunner, Prabowo Subianto, organisers said.
Jokowi, as the incumbent is known, has not explicitly endorsed any of the three candidates vying to replace him as leader of the world’s third-largest democracy. But he has made highly publicised appearances with Prabowo, and his eldest son is running on the same ticket as vice president.
Two opinion surveys last week projected Prabowo could secure more than 50% of the votes on Wednesday, allowing him to win in a single round. Rivals Anies Baswedan and Ganjar Pranowo were seen at least 20 points behind.
Some voters have taken issue with Jokowi’s perceived lack of neutrality, saying it undermines Indonesia’s democracy by giving one candidate an unfair advantage .
“The ethical and moral breaches by Jokowi show that he is against a critical public voice,” said Aksi Gejayan Memanggil, a protest organiser in Yogyakarta, a city on Java island, said on Instagram.
Another protest was planned in the capital Jakarta by several rights groups.
The presidential office has denied political meddling by Jokowi.
The planned protests come after a documentary produced by an Indonesian investigative journalist, Dandhy Laksono, alleged that state officials including police and regional heads, and government welfare resources have been used to favour Prabowo.
The film, “Dirty Vote”, released at the weekend, had garnered nearly 4 million views on YouTube by Monday.
Reuters could not independently verify the allegations made in the documentary.
Prabowo’s campaign team has dismissed the accusations and described “most of the contents in the film as defamatory”.
The government has said social welfare is not being used to benefit any candidate.
The student protests also come as Indonesia enters a cooling-off period until voting day on Wednesday. Authorities were seen removing candidates’ billboards and posters, and candidates are barred from campaigning during this period.
Indonesia’s police will deploy around 25,000 anti-riot personnel to ensure security during the election.