JAKARTA, Indonesia (7TH UPDATE) – Former general Prabowo Subianto has rejected the results of Indonesia’s presidential election, which showed him losing by about 8.4 million votes to Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, and will challenge it in court.
In a surprise move on Tuesday afternoon, July 22, Prabowo said the electoral process was problematic, undemocratic, and violated the Constitution. He said they had evidence of massive and systematic fraud, and accused the General Election Commission (KPU) of ignoring the recommendations of the Election Supervisory Board (Bawaslu) regarding alleged irregularities. (READ: Prabowo camp warns it will report poll body to police)
“Therefore we take a stand. We will use our Constitutional right to reject a flawed presidential election and we are pulling out of the ongoing process,” Prabowo announced.
He also called on all his supporters to remain calm, saying they would fight through legal means and not through violence.
Prabowo’s statement came less than 2 hours before the KPU was scheduled to finish its national recapitulation process and announce the results. Notably, Prabowo’s running mate Hatta Rajasa was not with him at the time and has yet to issue an official statement responding to the events on Tuesday.
Right after the statement, his camp’s witnesses delivered a letter to KPU rejecting the recapitulation process and walked out of the building. The recapitulation proceeded, however, and the KPU announced by 9pm (10pm Manila time) that Jokowi and running mate Jusuf Kalla won Indonesia’s most divisive presidential election ever with 53.15% of the vote. (READ: It’s official: Jokowi won Indonesia election)
When sought for comment, Jokowi said on Tuesday afternoon: “I’m sure Pak Prabowo is a statesman who would prioritize the interests of the nation above all else.”
Confusion and clarification
Prabowo’s statement was initially understood to mean he was withdrawing as a candidate from the presidential race. This would have meant he would not be able to challenge the election results in court.
However, his camp clarified in a statement issued late on Tuesday night that he was only withdrawing from the recapitulation process, and not the race.
“The Prabowo-Hatta Red and White Defense Team will continue the struggle to defend democracy by taking legal steps to the Constitutional Court, DKPP (Election Organizers Ethics Council), police if there are indications of criminal cases, and then political steps through the House of Representatives and related institutions,” the statement said.
His camp also held a press conference on Wednesday morning to clarify their next steps. “We are in the process of preparing our challenge to the Constitutional Court,” said Tantowi Yahya, a spokesman for the Prabowo campaign team.
He said the challenge would be directed at KPU, which Prabowo has accused of mishandling the vote, adding his side considered 21 million votes to be in dispute.
Prabowo’s brother Hashim Djojohadikusumo, a wealthy businessman who has provided financial backing for the campaign, added: “We are looking for justice… we are expecting some fairness.”
Hashim also urged foreign leaders not to congratulate Widodo, as “the legal process has not ended yet”. US Secretary of State John Kerry and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott are among those who have already sent congratulations.
There are worries that a legal challenge would create weeks of uncertainty, however analysts do not expect the court to overturn the election results.
“The Prabowo camp would not have what the Jokowi camp has, and that is the reference to credible quick counts that show that they have won the election,” Marcus Mietzner, an associate professor at the Australian National University who researches Indonesian politics, explained last week.
A spokesman for Jokowi’s team, Anies Baswedan, suggested the court may not even accept the challenge. “The court has always been selective in accepting cases,” he told AFP. “Only cases that have merit and the possibility of changing results will be welcome.”
If the court accepts the challenge, it will likely issue a ruling on August 21. – with reports from Zul Sikumbang and Agence France-Presse /Rappler.com