June 8, 2023
JAKARTA – Accusing President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo of trying to sabotage the nomination of opposition figurehead Anies Baswedan in next year’s election, former deputy law minister Denny Indrayana Indrayana insists that Jokowi’s conduct is grounds for impeachment and that lawmakers should investigate a potential breach of the Constitution.
“The House of Representatives must use its right of interpellation to investigate whether the President had taken advantage of his position of authority to direct the Corruption Eradication Commission [KPK], the Supreme Court and the National Police to block Anies’ nomination to run in the 2024 presidential election,” Denny wrote in an open letter published on Wednesday.
The statement is the latest to come from an ongoing debate sparked by Jokowi’s admission that he would not remain neutral in the search for his eventual successor.
Likening the President’s conduct to that of former United States president Richard Nixon’s role in the Watergate scandal, the constitutional law expert outlined several pieces of anecdotal and circumstantial evidence that he believes should be enough for the House to launch an inquiry.
At the heart of the Watergate scandal is a probe that proved Nixon was complicit in the cover-up of a 1972 burglary attempt on his election rivals. Nixon stepped down as a result.
Based on hearsay from within the Democratic Party, Denny alleged that President Jokowi had informed a former vice president in a meeting that the 2024 race would only feature two presidential candidates. This “unsettling” information was relayed to former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in September of last year.
“[The former VP was] told that there would only be two candidates, while Anies would be the subject of a KPK investigation,” said the former aide to Yudhoyono.
The former VP in question is widely believed to be Jusuf Kalla, who has recently criticized Jokowi’s meddling. But the President has defended himself, telling media leaders last week that his cawe-cawe (Javanese for meddling) was in the nation’s best interests. Jokowi also insisted he had never involved any state apparatuses in his meddling.
The KPK has been in the spotlight for allegedly letting go of investigators who refused to investigate Anies over Jakarta’s successful bid to host the Formula E racing competition. With the first race in 2022, Anies spearheaded the E-Prix during his time as governor, which included paying a three-year commitment fee of Rp 653 million (US$43,882) that has become a point of contention.
Aside from targeting Anies, Denny alleges that Jokowi is also seeking to interfere with political parties sympathetic to the former education minister.
“When I asked why United Development Party (PPP) chairman [Suharso Monoarfa] was fired, a PPP member told me that the main reason is that Suharso had met four times with Anies,” the scholar-activist said in the letter.
While acknowledging that the evidence was merely hearsay, Denny pointed to the ongoing schism within the Democrats as further evidence of alleged meddling.
Since 2021, Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko has led a splinter faction to challenge the leadership of Democratic Party chairman Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono.
The government, through Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly, has already ruled in support of the younger Yudhoyono’s camp, but Moeldoko has filed an appeal to the Supreme Court to challenge that ruling.
“It’s impossible for President Jokowi to be unaware that Moeldoko is continuing to harass the Democratic Party,” Denny argued.
The Democratic Party is one of three parties backing Anies for the presidency, along with the opposition Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and the NasDem Party, a recent outcast from the ruling coalition that also allegedly faces pressure to abandon Anies.
If NasDem or the Democrats were to rescind their support of Anies, he would not be able to meet the required threshold to run on his own ticket, at least without the support of another willing pro-government party.
In response to the letter, PDI-P secretary-general Hasto Kristiyanto suggested that the Yudhoyono cabinet stalwart be fair about accusations of impeachable conduct by applying the same points to the 2009 election, wherein state resources were allegedly used to boost a certain party’s votes.
He then proceeded to defend Jokowi’s meddling as necessary in preparing the nation for “a jump in progress”.