Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signaled his support for maintaining direct local elections in an interview published on YouTube Sunday, with debate heating up over a bill aimed at giving local assemblies the power to select mayors, governors and district heads. In the video posted on Suara Demokrat or Democratic Voices, a YouTube channel dedicated to Mr. Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party, he said people have grown accustomed to direct elections — a system that was first implemented in the young democracy in 2005. If people considered the current system a product of democratic reform, he said, “[certainly] we have to keep and maintain direct local elections, as well as the direct presidential election.”
It was the first time Mr. Yudhoyono has voiced his opinion on the controversial bill currently being deliberated by lawmakers. It seeks to replace direct elections for mayors, governors and district heads with an earlier system where local leaders were chosen by regional assemblies.
The bill has sparked public protests across the country over the past week from citizens who say it would deprive them of their democratic right to choose their leaders.
Hundreds of local leaders have also come out in opposition to the piece of legislation.