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Indonesia police fire tear gas, water cannon at protesters

Indonesian police deployed tear gas and water cannon against thousands of students protesting Monday against extending the presidential term limit, after rumours swirled for weeks about a potential change to the country’s constitution.

The Southeast Asian country’s next election is in 2024 and President Joko Widodo would not be eligible to run as Indonesia places a two-term limit on its leader.

But senior ministers and several political parties last month suggested the election should be delayed and the constitution amended to allow presidents to serve more than two terms.

Monday saw about 2,000 university students gather in front of the House of Representatives building. Indonesia has seen similar rallies sprout across the country in the last week.

“We demand the House of Representatives not betray the constitution by making an amendment and we firmly reject delaying the 2024 election,” protest coordinator Luthfi Yufrizal said in a statement.

Police later fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse the protesters, according to AFP reporters on the scene.

Some students clashed with police, who rounded up dozens of people to be taken in for questioning.

The debate on delaying the election and extending the presidential term has gathered steam since March, despite Widodo himself rebuking the suggestions multiple times.

On Sunday, he reiterated that it was “speculation”.

“The schedules for the presidential and regional election of 2024 have been agreed. It’s all clear,” Widodo said in a tweet. “Don’t be provoked by insignificant political interests.”

But critics said his objection to the proposals came far too late, only fuelling the furore. AFP

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