Indonesia’s parliament on September 26 voted to abolish direct elections for provincial governors, mayors and heads of districts.

After more than 10 hours of debate, the parliament passed the bill with 226 in favour and 134 against, handing the power to select local leaders to local assemblies.

Earlier this week, Indonesia ’s outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono proclaimed his support for direct elections and requested the Democratic Party (DP)’s parliamentarians to vote against the bill.

DP members left the meeting in boycott of the vote after the party’s requests were not included in the draft.

Meanwhile, President-elect Joko Widodo, who will be sworn in on October 20, criticised the bill as a “big step back” for democracy.

Indonesia introduced direct elections for local leaders in 2005. Parties backing Prabowo Subianto, rival of Widodo in the president election, hastened the parliament to vote for the bill while recent referenda showed that 91 percent of Indonesians supported direct elections.-VNA