Indonesia court to rule on Prabowo camp's legal challenge to April election won by Jokowi

Retired general Prabowo Subianto has refused to concede defeat and his legal team has called on the court to overturn the result or disqualify Joko's ticket, citing systematic fraud and abuse of power.
Retired general Prabowo Subianto has refused to concede defeat and his legal team has called on the court to overturn the result or disqualify Joko's ticket, citing systematic fraud and abuse of power.PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (REUTERS) - Indonesia's Constitutional Court will rule on Thursday (June 27) on an opposition challenge to the official presidential election result after allegations that the vote won by President Joko Widodo in the world's third-biggest democracy was rigged.

Mr Joko 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 Mr Joko'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 Mr Joko to step down.

 
 
 
 

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

Amnesty International Indonesia said this week that 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'

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

Mr 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 Mr Andre Rosiade, a campaign spokesman.

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

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

The legal team has also called on the court to disqualify Mr Joko's ticket on the grounds that his running mate, Dr 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 Mr Joko'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 Mr Joko have said the allegations are baseless.

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