Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono announced to issue a presidential decree to override parliament’s approval of the controversial regional elections law. This new bill passed the House of Representatives (DPR) on Friday last week. Immediately institutions and people objected to the bill - which abolishes direct elections for regional leaders (leaving it to regional legislatures to elect mayors, district heads and governors) - as it is considered a step back for the country’s young democracy and reduces transparency.
The presidential decree, which has the same status as a law in Indonesia, requires approval from the House of Representatives. In the plenary session last week, the regional elections law passed the House after Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party walked out of the session, thus leaving a majority for the Merah-Putih coalition (a term that refers to the political parties that supported controversial former army general Prabowo Subianto in the presidential election). President Yudhoyono was in Washington at the time of the plenary session.