Indonesia's election watchdog throws out petitions claiming election fraud

Indonesian protesters, mainly supporters presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, stage a demonstration against alleged voting fraud in the recent Indonesian election in Jakarta on May 10, 2019. PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA - Indonesia's election supervisory agency (Bawaslu) has rejected - on grounds of weak evidence - complaints filed by supporters of presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto that last month's election was plagued by cheating, saying that the petitioners only submitted online news links.

Bawaslu also said the alleged cases of electoral fraud did not meet the criteria that the fraud must be structural in nature, or involving rogue government or election officials; systematic, or with proof of a plan or a meeting discussing a plan to carry out fraud; and massive, or affecting at least 50 per cent of Indonesia's 34 provinces.

"Evidence in the form of online news links cannot stand alone. They must be supported by other means, such as documents, letters or videos," said Mr Fritz Edward Siregar, a Bawaslu commissioner who read out one of the two rulings during a public hearing on Monday morning (May 20).

The two complaints of election fraud were filed by senior campaign managers Djoko Santoso and Hanafi Rais, and by journalist Dian Islamiati Fatwa.

Both cases used online news links as evidence and were based on occurrence only in two provinces - East Java and Central Java.

Bawaslu's rulings were made in the preliminary stage of its examination process where, under the law, it could accept a complaint and make further examination or reject it outright.

Mr Prabowo, who ran against incumbent Joko Widodo, is expected to lose the April 17 presidential race by 11 percentage points, according to the latest tally of
more than 90 per cent of the votes by the General Elections Commission (KPU) on Monday.

Mr Prabowo has claimed that he and running mate, businessman-turned-politician Sandiaga Uno, had lost votes due to the millions of fictitious names added to voter rolls, the exploitation of state apparatus, money politics, precast ballots and data entry errors by the KPU.

The former general has been adamant that he will not accept the results after making repeated allegations of electoral fraud, fanning anger among supporters that include conservative Muslims, who plan to take to the streets starting Tuesday to protest against the impending results, which KPU will announce by Wednesday.

In the complaints to Bawaslu filed on May 10, the petitioners requested the agency to disqualify Mr Joko and his running mate senior cleric Ma'ruf Amin for allegedly promising monetary and other benefits to win votes.

Bawaslu chief commissioner Abhan, who took turn reading the rulings, said that none of the more than 70 evidence items showed there was a plan or a meeting initiated by anyone linked to the petitionees, in order for the case to be called systematic.

"To be called massive, it must cover at least 50 per cent of the country's provinces ," said Mr Abhan, who uses a one-word name.

One of the petitioners, Ms Dian, called the rulings unfair because the decisions were made prematurely, even before the witnesses that she claimed she had lined up were given a chance to testify.

"We have gathered all the witnesses and readied documents to show to Bawaslu. We just didn't have time to do this before we filed petitions," Ms Dian told reporters after the hearings.

Meanwhile, police and the Indonesian armed forces (TNI) held a coordination meeting on Monday, as more than 32,000 troops, including hundreds from other provinces, have been mobilised to secure Jakarta.

"Intelligence information revealed situation is conducive (to stability), and we expect it remains so ahead of May 22," police spokesman Brigadier General Dedi Prasetyo told reporters.

"TNI has readied reserve troops in case the situation gets out of hand, but we hope the situation remains under control and peaceful," he added.

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