Indonesia court upholds President Widodo's victory over Prabowo in April election

Indonesia court upholds President Widodo's victory over Prabowo in April election

Indonesia's Incumbent President Joko Widodo reacts after making a public address with his runn
Indonesia's Incumbent President Joko Widodo reacts after making a public address with his running mate Ma'ruf Amin, following the announcement of the last month's presidential election results at a rural area of Jakarta, Indonesia, May 21, 2019. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

JAKARTA: Indonesia's Constitutional Court on Thursday (Jun 27) confirmed the victory of President Joko Widodo - popularly known as Jokowi - in April's presidential election, dismissing accusations of cheating by rival Prabowo Subianto.

A panel of nine judges ruled to uphold the official results released in May by the General Elections Commission, which showed Widodo had won the race to lead the world's third-largest democracy.

The country's constitutional court threw out the case lodged by ex-general Prabowo, saying he did not prove that he lost the April vote because of widespread cheating and voter fraud.

"The plaintiff's case is legally groundless," said chief justice Anwar Usman. "We reject (his) demand in its entirety."

Prabowo said he accepted the "very disappointing" decision by the court and urged his supporters to stay calm.

He said: "We will dutifully follow our constitution, the 1945 Constitution,and the applicable laws in this country."

"Thus we convey that we honour the ruling of the Constitutional Court."

Widodo, who was due to depart for the G20 Summit in Japan, told reporters at an airport: "I urge all Indonesians to reunite to advance the country."

The court was weighing Prabowo's claims that the April poll was plagued by "systematic, structured and massive" electoral fraud that cost him victory.

Prabowo's lawyers had sought to overturn the official results that declared Widodo the winner with 55.5 per cent of votes, against Prabowo's 44.5 per cent.

The legal team argued that Widodo mobilised the power of the state to win the vote and broke campaign finance rules, and that up to 30 million votes were "stolen".

Over the course of more than eight hours Thursday, the nine-judge panel painstakingly described many of the allegations - including vote buying and that biased civil servants favoured Widodo - as baseless.

The court, which also questioned the quality of the evidence and the credibility of witnesses, said voter-fraud claims were the responsibility of Bawaslu, the elections supervisory agency, and beyond its remit.

HEAVY SECURITY

Tens of thousands of military and police were deployed in Jakarta amid fears of more unrest after Thursday's decision, as protesters gathered outside the Constitutional Court.

Prabowo supporter Daeng Wahidin was among those who had gathered, but police barricades prevented them from getting near the building.

Some 47,000 police and army personnel were deployed around the court and other parts of central Jakarta amid fears of more unrest.

"The state can make its decision, but I won't accept Jokowi as president," the 45-year-old Wahidin told AFP.

"I think he was elected through a fraudulent system."

But election officials have discounted Prabowo's cheating claims, and many legal analysts tipped the lawsuit to fail due to weak evidence.

Prabowo also lost a similar court battle in 2014 when Widodo defeated him.

Last month, peaceful protests against the official result by Prabowo supporters erupted into two nights of street battles between police and rioters, leaving nine people dead and hundreds injured in the capital's worst violence in years.

Indonesian police have been in the spotlight after videos surfaced that appeared to show officers beating protesters.

READ: How peaceful street protests turned violent in Jakarta

There are also questions about how the demonstrators - including a 15-year-old high school student - died.

This week, Amnesty International called for an independent probe into what it called "grave human rights violations" by police against protesters - including beatings and "torture" - and allegations that they were behind the killings of demonstrators.

Some of the dead were reported to have gunshot wounds. Police have insisted they did not shoot live rounds, but instead used rubber bullets, water cannon and tear gas to push back the crowds.

Meanwhile, several Prabowo allies have recently been arrested, including former army general Kivlan Zen over his alleged links to the Jakarta riots.

Police have also aired video from several arrested suspects who claimed that Zen masterminded a failed plot to sow chaos by killing four senior government officials, including its chief security minister and the president's top intelligence adviser.

Source: Reuters/AFP/na

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