Indonesian presidential rivals plan to contest official election results with allegations of fraud

Todung Mulya Lubis, a prominent Indonesian lawyer who represents presidential candidate Ganjar Pranowo, gestures as he speaks during a talk in Jakarta, Indonesia, Thursday, March 14, 2024. The camps of the two presidential candidates who appear to have lost in Indonesia's election last month said Thursday they plan to challenge the results in the Constitutional Court with allegations of widespread fraud. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

Todung Mulya Lubis, a prominent Indonesian lawyer who represents presidential candidate Ganjar Pranowo, gestures as he speaks during a talk in Jakarta, Indonesia, Thursday, March 14, 2024. The camps of the two presidential candidates who appear to have lost in Indonesia’s election last month said Thursday they plan to challenge the results in the Constitutional Court with allegations of widespread fraud. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — The camps of the two Indonesian presidential candidates who appear to have lost in an election last month said Thursday they plan to challenge the official results in the Constitutional Court with allegations of widespread fraud.

Indonesians voted on Feb. 14 for a successor to popular President Joko Widodo, who is serving his second and final term. The election is a three-way race among current Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto and two former provincial governors, Anies Baswedan and Ganjar Pranowo.

Subianto is a former general linked to past human rights abuses who had the incumbent president’s tacit backing because Widodo’s son is Subianto’s vice-presidential running mate. Subianto claimed victory on election day after unofficial tallies showed that he won the poll with nearly 60% of the votes.

The General Election Commission has officially tallied over 78% of the votes as of Thursday, with Subianto taking 58.82%, Baswedan 24.50% and Pranowo 16.68%. Baswedan and Pranowo have refused to concede and alleged fraud in the election.

The official vote-counting process, which is lengthy and laborious, may take up to 35 days to be completed — the maximum time regulated by the Elections Law — and the election commission is expected to announce the official winner by March 20.

“I’m now preparing a petition to go to the Constitutional Court,” said Todung Mulya Lubis, a prominent lawyer who represents Pranowo and his running mate Mohammad Mahfud. “That’s the only legal course that we have to settle the election disputes, and for that we need a lot of witnesses and experts to testify.”

Lubis said that election irregularities occurred before, during and after the polls, but noted his team has had difficulty getting witnesses to testify in court, saying they were intimidated by authorities. He acknowledged that successfully challenging the election result with such a wide margin of victory will be difficult.

“There’s no way you can prove that, so we will argue that when we talk about election disputes, we are not only talking about the outcome of the election, but we are also talking about the process of the election, prior to the election,” Lubis told foreign journalists at a news conference on Thursday.

He said irregularities also occurred over Widodo’s son, Gibran Rakabuming Raka. The Constitutional Court made an exception to the minimum age requirement of 40 for candidates in order for Raka, who is 37, to run.

The current chief justice is Widodo’s brother-in-law, and he was removed by an ethics panel for failing to recuse himself and for making last-minute changes to the election candidacy requirements.

The campaign team of Baswedan and his running mate Muhaimin Iskandar said they would file cases with the Constitutional Court when it opens its three-day registration period for electoral disputes a day after the winner is announced.

“There are strong indications that violations occurred in a structured, systematic and massive way in the presidential election,” said Hamdan Zoelva, a former Constitutional Court chief judge who is part of Baswedan’s team.

Baswedan said his team wants to make sure that irregularities don’t go “unchecked.”

Subianto refused to accept the results of the 2019 presidential election, which pitted him against Widodo, leading to violence that left seven dead in Jakarta. In the past two elections, the Constitutional Court has rejected Subianto’s bids to overturn Widodo’s victories and dismissed his claims of widespread fraud as groundless.

“This is the challenge for the Constitutional Court because we expect it to be the guardian of the constitution,” Lubis said.

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