Jokowi, Prabowo rein in supporters

Presidential front runner Joko Widodo and his opponent Pra- bowo Subianto, both of whom claimed victory in Wednesday's election, have called on supporters to exercise restraint and hold off victory parades until official results are out in two weeks' time.

Their comments come after both men and their running mates met President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who is in office until Oct 20, in separate pairs on Wednesday night, and were told to control themselves for the sake of national stability.

"As the head of state in control of safeguarding a peaceful Presidential Election 2014, President SBY asked both pairs to restrain themselves from all claims and celebrations that could spark friction," a post on Dr Yudhoyono's Facebook page said.

"He also asked both parties to await the official recapitulation (of votes) from the Election Commission so all becomes clear," the post added.

Both Mr Joko, who is known as Jokowi, and Mr Prabowo said they would wait for the formal result expected on July 22.

But while the streets of Jakarta remained peaceful, the struggle to consolidate victory began in earnest as Mr Joko urged supporters to be especially watchful over the ongoing vote tabulation and as talk emerged of Mr Prabowo's largest ally, Golkar, switching sides.

Quick counts by six pollsters, with a reputation for fairly precise projections of winning margins in previous local and national elections, had given Mr Joko a 5 percentage point lead over his rival.

Not one to give in, Mr Pra- bowo's team had countered with quick counts of their own from four little-known pollsters, publicised on TV stations owned by key coalition members.

Yesterday, his brother Hashim Djojohadikusumo and campaign team members bandied about a "real count" of results from some 60 per cent of polling stations that showed their team leading.

The claims and counterclaims have given rise to concern over attempts to manipulate the ongoing vote tally from both sides.

In previous elections, including the recently held legislative polls, candidates have been known to bribe election officials, from individual polling stations to provincial-level ones, who add up the results from district-level tallies. The danger of vote manipulation is particularly high in areas where local officials are strong supporters of a particular candidate and poll monitors from the rival parties are thin on the ground.

Asked about concerns his rival might try to secure a win this way, Mr Joko told foreign journalists yesterday he hoped the Election Commission (KPU) would be clean and honest in the actual count. "I believe Mr Prabowo is a statesman who will place the country's interest above all else, and that after the KPU outcome, he will accept it… and I am confident we will get a fair, honest, good outcome." Mr Prabowo had told reporters after meeting Dr Yudhoyono: "We also conveyed that if presidential candidate No. 2 (Mr Joko's ballot number) keeps conducting actions in the field, there will be a war of perceptions over who has won the election."

Observers anticipate that even after the official result, a tussle will ensue at the Constitutional Court until the end of next month. Said OCBC economist Wellian Wiranto: "Should the political differences threaten to boil over during this interim period, it would become a significant burden on market sentiment."

This article was first published on July 11, 2014.
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