Ex-Indonesia leader Megawati advises cabinet not to quit amid criticism of Jokowi

By Thomson Reuters Feb 8, 2024 | 10:06 PM

JAKARTA (Reuters) – A former Indonesian president and chief of its biggest party has advised ministers not to quit outgoing President Joko Widodo’s cabinet, amid media reports of possible resignations over his perceived meddling in next week’s presidential election.

In a rare interview, Megawati Sukarnoputri, said she had advised the influential finance minister and her own party PDI-P’s five ministers to stay put or risk destabilising the country.

“If I told ministers to resign, who would be at a loss?” she told Kompas TV. “It would be the country, especially if we’re talking about the finance minister.”

Her remarks come just days ahead of Indonesia’s presidential and legislative elections on Feb. 14. Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto has been leading in opinion polls, followed by former Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan and ex-Central Java governor Ganjar Pranowo.

Markets have been concerned that Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati might walk out amid widespread public criticism over Jokowi’s perceived political interference and lack of neutrality in the election.

The president, who is a member of Megawati’s party, has not explicitly endorsed any candidate but his son is running for vice president alongside Prabowo, and Jokowi has made several appearances with the frontrunner during the campaign period.

Sri Mulyani has not made any comments about the media reports and the finance ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Megawati’s remarks.

Jokowi has repeatedly said the cabinet is working as usual.

When asked if her party’s candidate, Ganjar, would remain in her shadow if elected, Megawati, the daughter of Indonesia’s founding father Sukarno, pointed to her relationship with Jokowi, who rose through the ranks of her party all the way to the top job in the world’s third-largest democracy.

“Ask Jokowi. Do I dictate him? No.”

(Reporting by Stanley Widianto; Writing by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Miral Fahmy)