Prabowo's challenge turning into a farce

Prabowo's challenge turning into a farce
Supporters of losing presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto at a mass prayer during a protest outside the Constitutional Court in Jakarta yesterday. They have also been blocking the court entrance with their demonstrations.

The legal dispute launched by Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto in the Constitutional Court has seen many Indonesians tuning in to be entertained as it lacks substance and is unlikely to present a real challenge to the results, analysts say.

Some witnesses have caused the nine judges to laugh and take jibes at them for lacking coherence and causing confusion.

"The proposition that Prabowo won 50.25 per cent is not adequately supported by strong evidence so far," said court analyst Refly Harun.

None of the testimonies by witnesses has suggested large vote manipulation or widespread tampering at the recapitulation process as claimed, he added.

The Election Commission had declared Mr Joko Widodo and his running mate the winners of the July 9 election with 53.15 per cent of the vote, against 46.85 per cent for Mr Prabowo and his running mate. But Mr Prabowo is challenging the result.

Judges, who have to issue a verdict by next Thursday, have cross-examined over 150 witnesses in a case described as weak and a last-ditch attempt by Mr Prabowo to cast doubt on the electoral process otherwise viewed as the most transparent yet.

In the seven days since the hearings began, Mr Prabowo's lawyers have yet to prove "structured, massive and systematic" fraud, a term the court needs to be convinced of before it annuls the July 9 polls and orders a re-election. The Prabowo camp is arguing that nearly 23 million votes in about 11 per cent of the total 480,000 polling stations across Indonesia have been compromised by irregularities.

Earlier this week, a Ms Novela Nawipa drew laughter as she replied in rapid-fire succession to insist no voting took place at a village in Awabutu in Papua. Judge Patrialis Akbar, who had already been tickled by her cocksure replies, then asked her how near her village was to the next one that had voting.

"Very near, sir, only 300km," said Ms Novela, without hesitation, stirring murmurs.

Realising her mistake, she quickly told the judge: "Sorry, sir, I meant 300m."

Fellow judge Arief Hidayat, roused more laughter when he admitted defeat in getting more replies out of her. To which she said: "Same, sir, I will also get more confused if we carry on."

As the legal teams battle it out within the court, outside, Mr Prabowo's supporters are causing traffic snarls as they continued to block the court's entrance with protests. Yesterday, a group of supporters dressed in military outfits belonging to a pro-Prabowo organisation rode on motorcycles downtown, while their leaders chanted through loudhailers atop slow-moving trucks.

The Prabowo camp was also busy reaching out to the media to sway them to its case.

Its lead lawyer, Mr Mahendradatta demonstrated to the media on Wednesday how the election results forms could be easily tampered with despite use of security devices like holograms and micro-text. But he did not provide any actual numbers on how many had been tampered with.

Said Mr Prabowo's brother and main campaign funder, Mr Hashim Djojohadikusumo: "We are being painted as sore losers, but we want to show that this is not a frivolous case. We are okay with losing, as long as it is losing in a right and fair way."

This article was first published on August 16, 2014.
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