Prabowo camp told to improve election challenge

Prabowo camp told to improve election challenge
Supporters of losing presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto hold a protest as Indonesia's Constitutional Court gather to hear a legal complaing by Prabowo in Jakarta on August 6, 2014.

A defiant Mr Prabowo Subianto, accompanied by coalition partners and lawyers, turned up in court yesterday to challenge the July 9 presidential election result that declared Mr Joko Widodo the winner by a huge margin of 8.4 million votes.

The Prabowo camp insisted that he had won 50.25 per cent of the 133 million valid votes cast, beating his rival by a margin of more than 700,000 votes.

His lawyers, alleging that there had been "structured, systematic and massive" cheating, demanded that the Constitutional Court declare the result invalid. They also wanted recounts at 56,000 poll booths they claimed had been tampered with, affecting nearly 23 million votes.

"Our case stands based on the massive tampering that has resulted in significant losses for us," lawyer Maqdir Ismail told the court.

But the nine-judge panel took the Prabowo camp to task over its submission, citing vagueness, spelling errors, shoddy referencing and a lack of concrete evidence. Chief judge Hamdan Zoelva gave the lawyers 24 hours until noon today to submit an improved document.

While the legal challenge is Mr Prabowo's last-ditch bid to overturn the result, many see it as a face-saving way to concede defeat by sowing doubt about the Election Commission and the electoral process. The former general has neither conceded defeat nor congratulated his rival.

But the odds are against the 62-year-old, given that the Constitutional Court has never overturned a national election result and that the Election Commission was praised for its transparency in this year's election.

Yesterday, Mr Prabowo blamed "foreign intervention" for the election result and claimed the electoral process would not be legitimate if the court did not scrutinise it.

"Our coalition feels hurt by these (dishonest) practices... some of these only happen in totalitarian countries like North Korea," he told the court in a 13-minute speech.

"What we are seeing is a rape of democratic rights," he added, saying that he had up to 10,000 witnesses to back his claims.

But the judges' quick retorts suggest that they are keen to avoid a messy legal process.

Judge Ahmad Fadlil demanded clarity, saying: "Do you want the court to decide on ruling a revote or a recount?"

Fellow judge Aswanto ticked off the camp for being vague.

"You refer to 'indications' of money politics but 'indications' are not concrete enough," he said. "Sharpen (the language), avoid using words with many meanings; use those which are precise."

Outside, 2,000 banner-waving protesters, some holding flags belonging to members of Mr Pra- bowo's seven-party coalition, chanted for justice.

Their leaders roused them with fiery speeches as policemen stood watch. "If you want Prabowo to win, clap your hands," yelled one protester.

Police had deployed up to 22,000 men across Jakarta in case the protests turned violent.

In East Java's capital of Surabaya, police had to use water cannon to disperse rowdy demonstrators who blocked the local Election Commission office.

The hearing resumes tomorrow. The court's ruling, which is final, will be issued by Aug 22.

zubaidah@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on August 07, 2014.
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