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US congratulates Indonesia on “historic” election

Even as both candidates in Indonesia's presidential poll claim victory, the US has congratulated the country on what it called an “historic” election.

WASHINGTON: Even as both candidates in Indonesia's presidential poll claim victory, the US has congratulated the country on what it called an “historic” election.

The official results will not be announced until late July, but Joko Widodo and Prabowo Subianto both say that unofficial early counts show they are the winners.

The White House has praised Indonesia's high voter turnout -- what it called a spirited election campaign and strong participation -- saying those factors underscored the country as a maturing democracy.

The administration in Washington also drew out the fact that the US and Indonesia are the world's second and third largest democracies respectively, and it said that
President Obama is looking forward to continuing the Comprehensive Partnership, launched in 2010, with the new president and the new parliament.

But it is unlikely that more will be heard from the White House on the election until after the official results come out later in July -- when there will be no doubt congratulations from Washington will be sent to the winner.

But back in June, the US Ambassador to Indonesia Robert Blake did call for an investigation into allegations that Prabowo was involved in human rights abuses in the 1990s while he was heading up the country's special forces.

The ambassador said he was not taking a position on the election and that the US can work with whomever wins, but it is unusual for an American diplomat in his position to discuss another country's presidential candidates especially so late on in a campaign.

That implies that in the US, there is perhaps some preference for Prabowo's rival Widodo, whose more trouble-free background could be easier for Washington to work with in the future. 

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