Indonesia's Prabowo challenges election result in court, hearing to begin in August

Defeated presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto and his running mate Hatta Rajasa on Friday filed a challenge to the election result at the Constitutional Court, but not before railing against the Election Commission (KPU). -- PHOTO: AFP 
Defeated presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto and his running mate Hatta Rajasa on Friday filed a challenge to the election result at the Constitutional Court, but not before railing against the Election Commission (KPU). -- PHOTO: AFP 

JAKARTA - Defeated presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto and his running mate Hatta Rajasa on Friday filed a challenge to the election result at the Constitutional Court, but not before railing against the Election Commission (KPU).

The papers were filed shortly before the deadline of 9.04pm, or 72 hours from the time of the results. The Prabowo team took along what they said was evidence of alleged fraud at 52,000 out of the 480,000 polling stations, affecting up to 21 million voters, and said they had 500 witnesses.

The nine-judge court will begin hearing the case the week of Aug 4, after the Hari Raya break, and has up to 14 working days to make a decision, which will be final and binding.

The court can order a recount or repeat voting if it finds systematic and large-scale fraud that would have altered the result.

"Brothers, we continue with our struggle, the struggle to save Indonesia. We want real democracy, we want justice and are willing to risk everything," Mr Prabowo told hundreds of supporters outside the court from the sunroof of a white Lexus SUV on Friday night. Mr Hatta reminded the crowd their struggle had to be done peacefully, in line with the law. 

But observers like law academic Margarito Kamis say this is highly unlikely, given the sizeable 8.4 million vote margin president-elect Joko Widodo had.

Added Mr Asrul Ibrahim Nur of The Indonesian Institute think-tank: "Even if the court orders repeat voting in a number of areas, this will not be enough to alter the election winner." 

Mr Joko's lawyers as well as the KPU say they have prepared evidence to defend themselves when called by the court.

The KPU had, on Tuesday, declared Mr Joko and his running mate Jusuf Kalla the winners of the July 9 election with 53.15 per cent of the vote, or 71 million votes, against 46.85 per cent or 62.6 million votes for Mr Prabowo.

Court chief Hamdan Zoelva said the court would be independent and transparent in hearing the election dispute, and all sessions will be live streamed on the court website. 

In a YouTube video posted hours earlier, Prabowo accused the election organisers of being biased toward one contestant, and not hearing his team's protests during the vote tally. "This election has failed, and if we accept its result it means we approve of fraud," he said.

zakirh@sph.com.sg

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