Security ramped up as Indonesia court rules on disputed election

FILE PHOTO: Indonesia's Incumbent President Joko Widodo reacts after making a public address with his running mate Ma'ruf Amin, following the announcement of the last month's presidential election results at a rural area of Jakarta, Indonesia, May 21, 2019. REUTERS
Indonesia’s Constitutional Court will rule on Thursday on an opposition challenge to the official presidential election result after allegations the vote won by President Joko Widodo in the world’s third-biggest democracy was rigged.

Widodo won April’s presidential race with a comfortable double-digit lead, the General Election Commission’s (KPU) official count showed last month.

However, his challenger, retired general Prabowo Subianto, has refused to concede defeat and his legal team has called on the court to overturn the result or disqualify Widodo’s ticket, citing systematic fraud and abuse of power.

The election supervisory agency (Bawaslu) has said there was no evidence of systematic cheating and independent observers have said the poll was free and fair.

At least 47,000 security personnel have been deployed in Jakarta in case of protests by Prabowo supporters and police have blocked roads in the vicinity of the court, which has been hearing the case for two weeks.

The court’s verdict, delivered by a panel of nine judges, is final and no appeal can be lodged.

Some of the worst civil unrest in years broke out in the heart of Jakarta last month after the official election results were announced. Prabowo supporters clashed with security forces and called for Widodo to step down.

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At least nine people were killed and 900 injured in two nights of the violence, with police firing tear gas and rubber bullets and protesters charging them with rocks, sticks, and firecrackers.

Amnesty International Indonesia said this week police used excessive force and accused officers of torturing several people while trying to contain the riots.

The rights group has called for an independent probe into the deaths, which police say they are conducting with the national commission for human rights.

‘MASSIVE TAMPERING’

Authorities have blamed last month’s violence on several groups, saying many of the rioters were paid, and also accused retired special forces general with links to Prabowo of masterminding a plot to assassinate top state officials during the unrest.

Prabowo and his running mate Sandiaga Uno have urged their supporters to stay off the streets and “watch the verdict at home on television instead”, said Andre Rosiade, a campaign spokesman.

Both sides have said they will accept the court’s ruling.

Prabowo’s legal team sued the KPU and presented in court witnesses and evidence they said showed there was “election tampering in a structural, systematic, and massive manner”.

They claim Prabowo won 52% of the vote - against 44.5% according to official results - and have asked for the court to nullify the official results as they stand, hold a re-vote, or declare Prabowo and Uno the winners.

The legal team has also called on the court to disqualify Widodo’s ticket on the grounds that his running mate, Ma’ruf Amin, failed to resign from an advisory position on the board of a state-controlled bank as required by election law.

The team has also sought to highlight issues with Widodo’s campaign financing while claiming he used state apparatus as a campaign tool. It has also called on the court to dismiss all KPU commissioners.

Many experts say it will be very difficult to prove the opposition’s claims and two separate legal teams for the KPU and Widodo have said the allegations are baseless.

The vast majority, around 70%, of Indonesians believe the election was honest and fair, an opinion poll by Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting showed last week.

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President Joko WidodoPrabowo SubiantoIndonesia Election