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Zakir Hussain
Sunday, Aug 24, 2014

Asia

Court dismisses Prabowo's claims, upholds election result

The Straits Times | Zakir Hussain | Sunday, Aug 24, 2014

Supporters of presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto trying to get to the Constitutional Court in Jakarta yesterday. Police fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse the supporters who tried to break through security barriers.

Indonesia's Constitutional Court last night upheld the results of the July 9 presidential election that saw Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo and his running mate Jusuf Kalla elected as the country's next president and vice-president, bringing legal closure to what many Indonesians felt was a protracted process.

The nine-judge court dismissed a challenge to the election results filed by defeated candidate Prabowo Subianto and his running mate Hatta Rajasa in its entirety, an outcome that many saw coming given the weak evidence that had surfaced over the two-week hearing.

The court's decision is final and binding, and paves the way for the government of outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to formally begin working with Mr Joko and his team on the transition in the days ahead of the formal handover of power on Oct 20.

But yesterday saw some tension outside the court, as police fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse several of Mr Prabowo's supporters who tried to break through security barriers earlier in the afternoon by climbing over barbed wire and crashing through the barriers with trucks.

Dr Yudhoyono delayed a trip to Papua to monitor the situation amid a security lockdown of the capital sparked by fears of violence, with more than 40,000 soldiers and policemen put on stand-by.

Presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha told reporters: "There were several incidents that the President saw as part of our democracy but he is glad that, in the end, tensions were reduced and everything went peacefully."

Last month, Indonesia's election commission declared that Mr Joko, 53, and Mr Kalla, 72, won 53.15 per cent of the vote on July 9, securing a margin of 8.4 million votes over Mr Prabowo, 62, and Mr Hatta, 60.

But Mr Prabowo and his lawyers took the case to court, alleging that massive, systematic and structured electoral fraud on the part of the election organisers had cost them victory.

Yesterday, the judges said the petitioners had failed to prove that there was significant electoral fraud, let alone on a scale sufficient to overturn the polls result.

They took turns to read some 300 pages of the 4,390-page decision on the hearing.

Said Judge Muhammad Alim: "There is no evidence that has convinced the court the votes the complainant got were reduced and the votes of the other party were boosted."

Former law minister Hamid Awaludin told a televised panel discussion on the case that, to accede to a complaint, the court needed evidence beyond reasonable doubt.

"The evidence did not even come near this throughout the hearing. The witnesses did not see alleged irregularities first-hand," he said.

Earlier in the day, the electoral ethics council issued warnings to 30 election officials for procedural violations.

It also dismissed four local election commissioners in Banten for taking bribes from Mr Prabowo's Gerindra party, and expelled another five commissioners in Papua for logistical lapses.

But members of Mr Prabowo's coalition say they are not going to give up their fight for justice just yet, and are set to attack Mr Joko before and even after he assumes office.

Mr Prabowo's team members called a press conference last night, lashing out at the authorities for using excessive force as well as railing against alleged foreign intervention in the election. However, observers do not see any major upsets derailing the transition of government in the coming weeks.


This article was first published on August 22, 2014.
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