Ex-Indonesian president launches Twitter tirade before Jakarta election

Agus Yudhoyono (centre greets the crowd at a campaign rally in Jakarta, Indonesia, Feb 11, 2017.
Agus Yudhoyono (centre greets the crowd at a campaign rally in Jakarta, Indonesia, Feb 11, 2017.PHOTO: EPA

JAKARTA (REUTERS) - Former Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Tuesday (Feb 14) accused political "actors" of sabotaging his son's chances in this week's fiercely contested election for Jakarta governor, and threatened legal action against those he thinks responsible.

Yudhoyono's son Agus is running against two rivals in the contest for Jakarta, a key political battleground in the run-up to a 2019 presidential election in the world's third-largest democracy.

The elder Yudhoyono was responding to allegations by a former chief of the anti-corruption agency, Antasari Azhar, that the ex-president had put pressure on him to drop investigations against his relatives.

"In destroying SBY's name, the goal of Antasari and the actors behind him, has been so Agus-Sylvi lose in tomorrow's election," the former president said on Twitter, referring to himself by his initials and to his son's ticket with running mate Sylviana Murni.

Azhar, who was jailed in 2010 for murder on what he told Reuters were trumped-up charges, was recently granted a presidential pardon and an early release from prison Yudhoyono alleged the pardon was politically motivated and aimed at "attacking and discrediting" him. He has previously alleged his phone was wiretapped by government agencies, and asked for an explanation from his successor Joko Widodo.

A spokesman for Widodo denied Azhar's pardon had anything to do with politics or the Jakarta governor election. "The president's decision to grant the pardon was in keeping with the law and based on input from the Supreme Court," said Johan Budi.

The race to lead Jakarta has been marred by bitter feuding between Yudhoyono's camp and the incumbent, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama. Purnama is backed by President Widodo's party and has been the target of massive protests led by Islamist hardliners who claim he insulted the Quran.

Many blamed Yudhoyono for fanning religious tensions through these rallies, but he has denied any involvement.

The third contender is Anies Baswedan, a former education minister.