Tight security at Indonesia court as opposition pushes for fresh election

Tight security at Indonesia court as opposition pushes for fresh election

Indonesia security constitutional court
Indonesian soldiers patrol near the constitutional court in Jakarta on Jun 14, 2019, as the court hears a defeated presidential challenger's claim that Indonesia's 2019 election was rigged, allegations that spawned deadly rioting last month. (Photo: AFP/BAY ISMOYO)

JAKARTA: Lawyers for Indonesia's political opposition called on Friday (Jun 14) for President Joko Widodo's election victory to be annulled, telling the Constitutional Court it had been achieved through "systematic electoral fraud and abuse of power". 

Official results released by the General Election Commission last month showed Widodo had beaten Prabowo Subianto, a retired general, by 11 percentage points to win more than 55 per cent of votes in April's poll, but his opponent has refused to concede defeat.

The dispute has prompted weeks of uncertainty in the world's third-largest democracy. Violent clashes broke out between Prabowo's supporters and police in the heart of the capital Jakarta last month after the official result was announced.

"We are filing a lawsuit against the General Election Commission, demanding that it annul its decision on the result of the presidential election," Bambang Widjojanto, the chief lawyer representing Prabowo, told the court.

FILE PHOTO: Indonesia's presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto speaks to his supporters after
FILE PHOTO: Indonesia's presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto speaks to his supporters after this week's presidential election in Jakarta, Indonesia, April 19, 2019. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

Prabowo and his campaign team want the Constitutional Court to annul the election, disqualify Widodo and his running mate as candidates or hold another election.

The court is expected to deliver a verdict by Jun 28.

Widodo has not commented on his rival's accusations of cheating, saying everyone must respect the legal process.

The election agency has said there was no evidence of systematic cheating and independent observers have said the poll was free and fair.

Clashes broke out between Prabowo's supporters and police in the heart of the capital, Jakarta, last month after the official result was announced and eight people were killed and more than 900 injured.

Police have arrested dozens of suspected instigators of the rioing, including a close Prabowo ally accused of orchestrating assassination plots against top government officials.

This week, Prabowo, who has warned of "people power" protests, urged supporters to remain calm through the Constitutional Court proceedings.

Around 17,000 police and military personnel have been deployed to prevent a repeat of last month's unrest while the Constitutional Court deliberates. 

There was a small peaceful protest held by opposition supporters near the heavily protected court building, some holding placards saying "We demand justice!"

Indonesia election protesters
Protesters outside the constitutional court in Jakarta on Jun 14, 2019. (Photo: AFP/BAY ISMOYO)

Prabowo's legal team pointed to issues with Widodo's campaign financing and use of state apparatus as a campaign tool, saying the election result came about because of "illegal actions, fraud and abuse of power which are structured, systematic and massive".

Prabowo's team also said police and military personnel had been "pressured" to vote for Widodo and the government increased civil servants' salaries as an attempt to buy votes.

Legal representatives for the election agency and Widodo's campaign team were at the hearing.

"There are more theories and assumptions stated in their case than facts ... We can refute all of them," said the chief lawyer representing Widodo, Yusril Mahendra.

The election supervisory agency has said previously there was no evidence of systematic cheating and independent observers have said the poll was free and fair.

National police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said 32,000 police officers and soldiers had been deployed across Jakarta in anticipation of "any potential for disruption that could interfere with proceedings".

Police were equipped with shields, tear gas and water cannons, but not live ammunition, he said.

"The approach remains a soft approach if there is a demonstration in front of the Constitutional Court," he told AFP.

Source: Agencies/hm/nc

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