After drawing a wave of ire for failing to defend democracy by allowing the passage of a law that scraps direct elections for local leaders, outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has finally given in to the pressure and has pledged to immediately annul the law.
In a press conference after meeting officials of his Democratic Party, Yudhoyono said on Tuesday that he would issue a government regulation in lieu of the law (Perpu) to replace the newly passed law, thus returning the people's right to directly elect leaders.
"I have prepared the Perpu to be submitted to the House of Representatives after I sign the [Regional Elections] Law," said Yudhoyono, who was accompanied by First Lady Ani Yudhoyono.
The Perpu should be passed by the House three months after its issuance. Yudhoyono is slated to leave office on Oct 20, while the new House members will be sworn in on Wednesday.
"If the House really hears the aspirations of the people, I believe direct elections with several improvements can be adopted in the new law," he said.
The decision to scrap the direct election of local heads was made by the House last week while Yudhoyono was on a visit to the UN in New York.
Yudhoyono was apparently furious by an unprecedented manoeuvre by his Democratic Party, which controls the House majority faction, to walk out of a crucial vote on the bill. The party's decision contradicted his early pledges to fight to keep direct elections intact in the bill.
The party's decision paved the way for the victory of the Red-and-White Coalition, led by presidential race loser Prabowo Subianto, in pushing for the scrapping of direct elections.