Indonesian minister dismisses election rigging allegations

PHOTO: AFP

After much huffing and puffing, the government officially rebuked on Wednesday circulating allegations by the opposition parties that it was involved in a so-called conspiracy to rig the election for a certain candidate pair's advantage.

Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto called the accusation, which alleged that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's administration was involved in "structured, systematic and massive" vote-rigging, was baseless.

Wiranto said the rumours accusing the government of conspiring with the General Elections Commission (KPU) and the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) to support a presidential candidate in the election had made the rounds on social media long before and after voting day.

"The allegation is very tendentious, slanderous, false and baseless, and it is intended to delegitimize the government and the election organizers […] as well as the ongoing final vote counts which will determine the election results," Wiranto said on Wednesday.

"We call on citizens not to believe such misleading narratives and not to be incited to get involved in movements that can disrupt peace and national security," he went on.

Wiranto did not specifically cite who was behind the allegations, however, narratives accusing the government's involvement in election fraud have been echoed by some figures in presidential challenger Prabowo Subianto's camp in recent days after voting day.

For instance, Said Didu, a Prabowo campaign team member, said recently that they found that the election had been rigged in a "structured, systematic and massive" manner, involving election organizers and officials in the government who support a certain candidate - in reference to the Jokowi-Ma'ruf Amin ticket.

Prabowo, who had controversially declared his victory, despite quick-count results showing Jokowi's expected win, has also called on his supporters to safeguard the final vote counts, saying that his camp found evidence of wrongdoings and authorities taking sides in the election.

The allegation was somewhat a repeat of the 2014 presidential election, when Prabowo and then-running mate Hatta Rajasa, who lost to Jokowi-Jusuf Kalla, said there were "structural, massive and systematic" violations during the election process.

Prior to election day, Prabowo campaign officials also suggested that they would use "people power", namely by gathering a massive number of people in the capital, to address election fraud since they did not believe in existing mechanisms.

Wiranto went on to say that commissioners of the KPU and Bawaslu had been elected by lawmakers at the House of Representatives, and they were independent institutions that did not fall under the control of the government.

Had there really been such a conspiracy, Wiranto said that he as a minister who handled politics would have known about the fact or would have been actively involved in it. "But it never happened," he said.

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