Jokowi warns foreign govts not to interfere with Indonesia's execution plan

Jokowi warns foreign govts not to interfere with Indonesia's execution plan
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has warned foreign governments not to meddle with the country's policy of executing death-row drug convicts, which he said, was a necessary move to curb rampant drug abuse in the country.

Jokowi made the remarks on Tuesday after meeting with Indonesian ambassador-designate to Brazil Toto Riyanto, who has been recalled following Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff's decision to reject Toto's credentials, apparently in protest at Jakarta's plan to execute a Brazilian drug convict along with 10 other death-row inmates.

Last month, Rousseff expressed outrage after Indonesia pressed ahead with executing an initial batch of six people, including Brazilian drug convict Marco Archer Cardoso Moreira, before recalling Brazil's ambassador to Indonesia.

"First of all, and I will be clear about this, there must be no intervention in the implementation of the death penalty, as it is a matter of our legal sovereignty. Our law still recognises the death penalty," Jokowi said after meeting Toto and Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi at the Presidential Palace on Tuesday.

Jokowi said that he had recalled Toto in order to maintain the country's dignity.

"We want good relations and friendship with any country. But when [a postponement of receipt of credentials] such as this occurs, we must firmly recall our ambassador," Jokowi proclaimed. "In the incident with Brazil, this is a matter of our country's dignity, the nation's dignity."

Jokowi said that he was disappointed by Rousseff's refusal to meet Toto, coming as it did only after he had arrived at the Brazilian presidential palace for a ceremony at which he was to submit his credentials.

Jokowi, who declined to reveal if Indonesia intended to freeze bilateral cooperation with Brazil, said Jakarta was waiting for futher developments before making any move.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla said recently that the government might reconsider an ongoing plan to purchase a squadron of warplanes from Brazil, while lawmakers have mulled a plan to ask the Defence Ministry to reevaluate the country's defence cooperation with Brazil.

Governments of foreign countries including Australia and the Netherlands, as well as the UN, have expressed concern at the government's plans to execute the deathrow inmates.

Jokowi said he had taken phone calls from the leaders of Brazil and France, whose citizens are on the execution list, as well as the Netherlands, a Dutch citizen having been executed last month.

Retno meanwhile questioned Rousseff's statement, which appeared to cast doubt on Indonesia's commitment to maintaining ties with Brazil.

"There was a statement from President Rousseff saying that she was waiting for a better development in [bilateral] ties. We don't understand the statement, because the relationship between Indonesia and Brazil has always been very good," Retno said.

The recall of Toto, who arrived in Jakarta on Monday morning, meanwhile, will remain effective "for an indefinite period" while Jakarta waits for the development of the situation, Retno said.

The House of Representatives reminded Brazil and Australia of the possibility of severing all ties if they "politically abused" Indonesia's firm decision to execute their citizens for drug trafficking.

House Commission I overseeing defence, foreign affairs and information said that Indonesia could turn to other countries, including Russia, to procure weapons systems.

Commission I lawmakers also reminded Australia that defence cooperation between the two countries could be at stake.

"We can end the ongoing defence training with Australia. Attempting to save its citizens is understandable but we must see the bigger picture that Abbott is using the death penalty decision to improve his sinking popularity at home," Commission I deputy chairman Tantowi Yahya said on Tuesday.

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