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Thousands of Indonesian students took to the streets of the country Monday to protest the rising cost of goods and a proposed plan to extend President Joko Widodo’s stay in office, Reuters reported.
Demonstrators marched in front of the country’s parliament in the capital Jakarta as well as in other cities. Police deployed tear gas and water cannons against the demonstrators. One protester and six officers were injured, the authorities said.
Some protesters lamented the surging prices of essential goods, including cooking oil, while others raised alarms about the prospects of the president outstaying his two-term limit.
Prominent political figures had proposed extending the rule of the president – also known as Jokowi – by changing the constitution or delaying the scheduled 2024 elections. The president initially remained mum about the subject, but opponents have criticized his ambiguous stance on the matter.
On Sunday, Jokowi urged his cabinet and security chiefs to cease talks on the contentious issue and said that the 2024 presidential elections will take place as planned.
Since his first election in 2014, Jokowi has retained a high approval rate, but a recent poll found that more than 70 percent of Indonesians rejected plans to extend his rule.
Meanwhile, the recent protests underscore the important role students have played in protecting Indonesia’s democratic gains: In 1998, large student demonstrations helped oust the government of Suharto — the military dictator who held the presidency for some 30 years.