Indonesia election: Prabowo greeted by hundreds of chanting supporters

Indonesian presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto meeting his supporters outside his home in South Jakarta yesterday. The gathering was organised by Mr Prabowo's supporters to mark the end of Wednesday's peaceful general election and for him to repeat
Indonesian presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto meeting his supporters outside his home in South Jakarta yesterday. The gathering was organised by Mr Prabowo's supporters to mark the end of Wednesday's peaceful general election and for him to repeat his claims of victory, even though official results have not been announced. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

He decries quick-count pollsters at gathering to reiterate his victory

Indonesian presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto was greeted by more than a thousand supporters chanting his name and calling him "president" when he returned to his home in South Jakarta after noon prayers at a mosque yesterday.

The gathering was organised by Mr Prabowo's supporters to mark the end of Wednesday's peaceful general election and for Mr Prabowo to repeat his claims of victory, even though official results have yet to be announced.

Unofficial quick counts by pollsters have placed the incumbent Joko Widodo on course for re-election with an eight-point lead. Mr Prabowo, however, has disputed these, claiming repeatedly that he is the victor with 62 per cent of the vote.

The General Elections Commission has about a month to announce official results of the election, in which more than 192 million people were eligible to vote. At the last presidential election in 2014, it announced the results within two weeks.

Mr Prabowo, who is closely aligned with several Islamist groups, gave a speech to the high-spirited audience, many of whom are members of Jakarta-based organisation Islamic Defenders' Front.

He began his speech by calling quick-count pollsters liars.

"Hey liars, people do not trust you! Hey pollsters, liars, people no longer want to listen to you. Maybe you should move out of this country," he said. "The people's wishes can no longer be repressed."

 
 

He went on to say: "Our official victory is just in front of us although we are facing various obstacles, intimidation, breaches of democracy."

According to Mr Prabowo, he had recently been given a Muslim name - "Ahmad" Prabowo Subianto - by senior clerics.

"I am considering this and will ask the people whether such a name suits me," he said to the cheering crowd, who shouted in unison that the name does suit him.

A poster put up near the stage from where he addressed the crowd read: "Congratulations on the victory of Prabowo-Sandi as elected president-vice-president for the 2019-2024 term. Don't trust quick counts."

Sandi refers to Mr Prabowo's running mate Sandiaga Uno. They had contested against Mr Joko and his vice-presidential candidate Ma'ruf Amin in the presidential election.

The retired army general also appealed to his supporters, most of whom were clad in white, to act within the Constitution and not breach any laws as they fought for their cause.

One cleric who spoke after Mr Prabowo left the stage made a threat against TV stations that continue to broadcast quick-count results, saying he would lead his followers to descend on the stations.

"They are disadvantaging the Muslims. They are causing the Muslims to be divided," the cleric said.

Security was high in Jakarta due to concerns of unrest, with military troops and police personnel on standby near the event venue.

Indonesia's armed forces chief, Air Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto, warned that any unrest would be dealt with sternly.

"We will not tolerate and will take stern action against attempts to disturb public order or unconstitutional acts that undermine the democratic process," he said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 20, 2019, with the headline 'Prabowo greeted by hundreds of chanting supporters'. Print Edition | Subscribe