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Surprise, confusion as Indonesia district court orders election delay

JAKARTA, March 2 (Reuters) — An Indonesian court on Thursday ruled the country’s poll body must halt election procedures for more than two years, a surprise verdict that divided legal experts over whether a district court has the power to delay a 2024 presidential vote.

Deciding on a civil lawsuit launched by an obscure political party formed in 2020, the Central Jakarta district court said the election commission must cease all ongoing processes for two years, four months and seven days, according to the court’s website.

The Just Prosperous People’s Party, or Prima Party, last year sued the election commission, depo 25 bonus 25 known by its Indonesian abbreviation KPU, after it said the party had failed to pass a verification process.

The court could not be reached for comment and it was not immediately clear why it had ordered the delay, which would move the election back to 2025 at the earliest.

Hasyim Asy’ari, the head of KPU, told Reuters it would appeal the decision at a higher court.

The Prima Party did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The polls scheduled for Feb.

14 next year are set to elect a new president and parliament to govern Southeast Asia’s biggest economy and its most populous country.

Bivitri Susanti, a constitutional court expert from the Indonesia Jentera School of Law, said the verdict could only be legally binding if the KPU does not appeal, or if it loses at higher courts.

«However, I must note that in the election law, there is no avenue to challenge through a district court like this. This is outside of the court’s authority,» she said.

Indonesia’s law and human rights minister, Yasonna Laoly, said he would not comment until he had read details of the ruling.

Titi Anggraini of election watchdog Perludem said the court had acted beyond its authority, calling the verdict «weird, awkward and suspicious».

Andalas University law expert Feri Amsari said the court should have ruled on the party verification process, instead of ordering an election delay.

(Reporting by Ananda Teresia and Stefanno Sulaiman; Writing by Gayatri Suroyo; Editing by Martin Petty)

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