Channel NewsAsia

Prabowo supporters threaten vigilantism

Losing Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto on Monday (Aug 11) entered his third hearing at the Constitutional Court in his challenge against the Elections Commission for vote counting fraud, as his supporters become increasingly vocal.

JAKARTA: Losing Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto on Monday (Aug 11) entered his third hearing at the Constitutional Court in his challenge against the General Elections Commission (KPU) for vote counting fraud in last month's polls.

His supporters have become increasingly vocal, even threatening vigilantism. The man they want justice served to - KPU chief Husni Kamil Manik - has himself filed a police report claiming he had received a kidnap threat over the weekend.

Thousands of supporters swamped the Constitutional Court entrance in Jakarta as they rallied behind witnesses testifying at the hearing on Monday. Speaking on megaphones, protest leaders warned they would take the law into their own hands, threatening to arrest Mr Husni if the police failed to do so.

It is not the first time Mr Prabowo's supporters have made direct threats on Mr Husni. Mr Prabowo's Gerindra Party's Jakarta Chairman Muhammad Taufik had said something similar over the weekend.

Mr Taufik reportedly threatened to kidnap Mr Husni on a televised interview on Metro TV. He has also demanded that Mr Husni meet with Mr Prabowo's supporters at Monday's rally.

The attorney for the General Elections Commission, Mr Adnan Buyung Nasution, said: "The act violates the law. Why is it so? Article 211 cites that anyone who makes a threat can be punished for four years, and even more (years) if they threaten to kidnap the person - which carries a sentence of 12 years in prison. I've called Metro TV officials. They can't let someone do that. Metro TV is partly wrong in giving someone a chance to threaten another person in public."

But Mr Prabowo's supporters said Mr Taufik had been misunderstood. Mr Andre Rosiade, Prabowo-Hatta rally coordinator, said: "It wasn't a serious threat as it stemmed from our theatrical performance. In the performance, a person wearing a mask with a photo of the General Elections Commission Head was supposedly kidnapped. The real Husni was not the one who was kidnapped. I think the General Elections Commission was over exaggerating when they made the police report."

Political analysts said Mr Prabowo and his Gerindra Party's chairman should have rebuked Mr Taufik for his controversial comments.Not having done so could have further tarnished Gerindra Party's reputation and possibly indicate that the party condones the use of violence and vigilantism.