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Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja
Friday, Jul 25, 2014

Asia

Jokowi stays calm amid rival's claims of vote-rigging

The Straits Times | Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja | Friday, Jul 25, 2014

AS KEY members of his campaign team witnessed the final hours of the two-week vote tally at the Election Commission (KPU) last night, president-elect Joko Widodo travelled across the capital to take time out and meet residents at a reservoir in North Jakarta.

He appeared to have little reaction when it was brought to his attention that his rival Prabowo Subianto had pulled out of the vote tally and had also said he would not accept the election result and alleged massive rigging in the process.

"I'm all right," Mr Joko told reporters. Pressed further, he said: "I'm convinced Mr Prabowo is a statesman who puts the nation's interest above everything else. As for the KPU, I defer to the Constitution and to the wishes of the people."

Mr Joko's remarks are characteristic of the even-tempered, mild-mannered candidate he was over the past two months, even while being subjected to mud-slinging attacks - he was accused of being a lackey of foreign parties and a puppet with no mind of his own.

He refused, in spite of suggestions from his campaign team and supporters, to go on the offensive, and maintained his cordial tone yesterday, preferring to downplay his victory.

He also appealed to supporters to celebrate the results at home, and said they could hold thanksgiving prayers quietly and avoid confrontation.

Earlier in the day, he posted on his Facebook page: "Our election victory is the victory of the people. I'm thankful to all the people of Indonesia for taking part in our festival of democracy."

"Now is the moment for us to unite, and rebuild harmony and mutual cooperation to uphold the unity of Indonesia," he added.

Mr Joko was expected to echo these remarks in his victory speech later in the night.

Earlier in the day, around late afternoon, he travelled to south Jakarta to join his running mate Jusuf Kalla in breaking fast with his party leader, Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P) president Megawati Sukarnoputri, and leaders of coalition parties.

Ms Megawati, teary at news of how the final vote count was heading, told reporters: "I would like to repeat what I said at the time of the quick count, now the real count is out, that our parties have won."

Mr Joko and Mr Kalla then headed to the KPU to witness the official results in person.

Today, Mr Joko is planning to return to City Hall to resume his duties as Jakarta Governor, and to start planning for the move to the palace come Oct 20.

wahyudi@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on July 23, 2014.
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