‘Militant Moms’ protest group demands that Jokowi step down as president

A Barisan Emak-Emak Militan protest in July. Photo: @barisanemakemakmilitan / Instagram
A Barisan Emak-Emak Militan protest in July. Photo: @barisanemakemakmilitan / Instagram

A small but impassioned protest group made their voices heard in front of the offices of the General Election Commission (KPU) in Jakarta yesterday morning. Calling themselves Barisan Emak-Emak Militan (which could be translated as “Militant Moms Front”) the group of about 30 women, all wearing red hijab, demanded that President Joko Widodo step down from office.

They were not, however, asking that Jokowi resign from the presidency for some specific offense. Instead, they argued that he should step down temporarily until the presidential election in April for the sake of fairness.

“The president has to step down because he has already become a presidential candidate. Stepping down is more honorable, more safe for democracy,” said coordinator Tri Erniyanti.

Basically their argument is that the president should have to step down while campaigning for re-election since he could use his powers to unfairly influence the election. And their argument is not without precedent. In fact, Indonesian election regulations require that officials in other high-ranking positions, such as governor, step down from office temporarily while running for re-election to prevent them from using their official influence to sway the outcome.

The militant moms group specifically cited Sandiaga Uno — the former Vice Governor of Jakarta who recently resigned from his position after just ten months in office in order to join Jokowi’s 2019 challenger, Gerindra chairman Prabowo Subianto, as his running mate — as an example of an honorable politician doing the right thing (even though, in Sandiaga’s case, he was required by law to resign).

The Prabowo-Sandiaga team have made emak-emak (a term for middle-aged women and mom) a major target of their campaign, in part because they want to focus on economic issues like the price of staple goods (although it is also rumored that they think Sandiaga’s good looks will help them win with this demographic).

absensi emak emak militan#hadir2019gantipresiden

Posted by Muhammad Yusuf on Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The Barisan Emak-Emak Militan group seems to be closely connected to the controversial #2019GantiPresiden (Replace the President in 2019) movement, but the organizers of yesterday’s demo wanted to make it very clear that they were not paid protesters.

“We are not cheerleaders, no. We are speaking from our hearts, we are not paid, we pay our costs ourselves, this movement is born from our awareness of the pitiable state of this country,” speaker Kurnia Tri Rayani told the crowd.

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