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Jakarta Post

Bawaslu clears Sri Mulyani, Luhut of campaign violations

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, November 7, 2018   /   11:15 am
Bawaslu clears Sri Mulyani, Luhut of campaign violations Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) head Abhan (left) presides over a hearing for a campaign violation case alongside member M. Afifudin on Nov. 6, 2017 (JP/Dhoni Setiawan)

The Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) has determined that two of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's ministers did not commit any campaign violations with hand gestures they made during the recent Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group in Bali.

Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan and Finance Minister Sri Mulyani, who were recently reported to the agency for allegedly campaigning for the incumbent at the international event, did not violate the 2017 Elections Law, Bawaslu commissioner Ratna Dewi Pettalolo said.

"[The ministers] have neither been proven of committing any action to benefit nor harm  a certain presidential candidate pair," Ratna said as quoted by on Tuesday.

In a video that went viral last month, Luhut and Sri Mulyani were seen correcting IMF managing director Christine Lagarde, who had raised her index and middle fingers, creating a V-sign or symbol of peace, during a group photo session at the meetings' closing ceremony.

The ministers asked Lagarde to instead raise only her index fingers and other prominent figures standing beside them mimic what Luhut did with a one-finger gesture. Sri Mulyani later explained to Lagarde, who seemed to be clueless, that, "two is for Prabowo; one is for Jokowi." 

Read also: Luhut, Sri Mulyani questioned by Bawaslu over Lagarde's hand sign

The incident was criticized by the campaign team and supporters of Prabowo Subianto, the challenger of Jokowi's reelection in 2019, who accused the ministers of campaigning for Jokowi, who has been designated as candidate number one, while Prabowo is candidate number two.

Ratna, however, said that the one-finger gesture shown by Luhut and Sri Mulyani was not considered an election violation because the ministers did not have the intention of campaigning at that time.

Sri Mulyani, Ratna said, had clarified to Bawaslu commissioners that she actually wanted to prevent the international event from being used for political interests by explaining the finger gestures to Lagarde. 

The commissioner also quoted Sri Mulyani as saying, "I told [Lagarde] not to raise two [fingers] because finger gestures have their own meaning in Indonesia today."

Luhut had also clarified that he did not have the intention of campaigning and his one-finger gesture was to express a unified Indonesia, Ratna said.

A group known as Archipelago Advocates recently reported the two ministers to the Bawaslu, accusing them of violating Article 282 of the Election Law, which prohibits public officials from using state facilities for campaigning or for encouraging others to support certain candidates. (afr)