Prabowo's suit to start a day later than planned

More time for Jokowi's, KPU's legal teams in revised lawsuit over alleged election fraud

Indonesia's top court hears ex-general Prabowo Subianto's claim that the 2019 presidential election was rigged, in Jakarta on June 14, 2019. PHOTO: AFP

Indonesia's Constitutional Court has decided to proceed with a hearing next week on former army general Prabowo Subianto's legal suit claiming that the April 17 presidential election was rigged.

The hearing is set for Tuesday, a day later than planned for.

This is to give the legal teams of the election commission and incumbent President Joko Widodo more time after they protested against sweeping revisions made by the plaintiffs to their suit early this week to add fresh allegations and information.

Mr Prabowo, now twice defeated by Mr Joko in the presidential race, and his running mate Sandiaga Uno had filed a petition on May 24 to dispute the election result.

They claim that massive, systematic and structured electoral fraud denied them victory in the April 17 polls, citing, among other things, data entry errors of votes, irregularities in the voter list and abuse of power on the part of Mr Joko.

The revised suit states that the pair won 52 per cent of the votes - which goes against the official tally of 55.5 per cent of the votes won by Mr Joko and Dr Ma'ruf Amin.

Mr Prabowo's lawyers also added new allegations, among them that there were irregularities in Mr Joko's campaign fund report and that Dr Ma'ruf violated election law by keeping his positions in firms they deem to be state-owned enterprises.

As the lawyers outlined their arguments yesterday, the other legal teams tried several times to raise objections to the amended lawsuit.

They were stopped by Justice Anwar Usman, the head of the nine-judge panel, who told them that "there will be time to talk about this later".

Time was a concern for the election commission (KPU), in particular, which asked the judges to consider starting the hearing on Wednesday instead.

KPU head Arief Budiman pointed to the challenge of bringing in KPU staff from the different provinces around the vast archipelago to put together a response to the revised lawsuit at the weekend.

"We had already got ready our response to the first lawsuit, and the staff have just gone home today," he told the court.

After a 10-minute discussion among the judges, Justice Anwar announced that the hearing would be pushed to Tuesday, and that submissions, which were supposed to be in yesterday, could be made before the hearing starts at 9am that day.

There was little drama during the proceedings, which were telecast live in the interest of transparency.

The revised lawsuit attracted much back and forth, with the other legal teams calling on the judges to disregard it, pointing out that the changes were significant.

The head of Mr Joko's legal team Yusril Ihza Mahendra told reporters it was akin to a "new lawsuit", noting that it now runs over 130 pages, more than four times the original number.

Yesterday's hearing was held under tight security after last month's riot in Jakarta, which left eight people dead and hundreds injured.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 15, 2019, with the headline Prabowo's suit to start a day later than planned. Subscribe