Indonesia's Prabowo to challenge election result in court

Indonesia's Prabowo to challenge election result in court

JAKARTA - The ex-general who lost Indonesia's presidential election to Joko Widodo will challenge the result in court, his campaign team said Wednesday, a move that could spell weeks of uncertainty for the world's third-biggest democracy.

But Prabowo Subianto's last-ditch bid to overturn the result did little to dampen the enthusiasm of Widodo's supporters, with thousands staging a noisy rally next to a Jakarta monument commemorating Indonesia's proclamation of independence in 1945.

Widodo, the reform-minded governor of Jakarta seen as a break from the autocratic era of dictator Suharto, was named the winner Tuesday after results showed he resoundingly defeated Prabowo, his only challenger.

Before the result was announced following a lengthy vote-tallying process, Prabowo -- a senior general during the Suharto era who has been dogged by allegations of human rights abuses -- angrily announced he was withdrawing from the election.

Prabowo, who had earlier claimed victory in the July 9 election, accused his opponent of cheating in the vote count.

On Wednesday a spokesman for the ex-general's team said he plans to contest the result at the Consitutional Court, with the challenge directed at the election commission for allegedly mishandling the count.

Analysts believe the poll was largely free and fair and do not expect a court challenge to succeed given the size of Widodo's victory -- he won by more than six percentage points, or about 8.4 million votes.

But the move nevertheless signals weeks of uncertainty ahead, as the court will likely only issue a ruling on August 21.

The challenge would be filed within three days, said Prabowo spokesman Tantowi Yahya, adding his side considered 21 million votes to be in dispute.

Prabowo's brother Hashim Djojohadikusumo, a wealthy businessman who has provided financial backing for the campaign, added: "We are looking for justice... we are expecting some fairness."

He also urged foreign leaders not to congratulate Widodo, saying that "the legal process has not ended yet".

Congratulations flooded in nevertheless, from US Secretary of State John Kerry and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, as well as the leaders of neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia.

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