Poll fight could drag on longer

An election commission official checking a document, stating the number of votes collected in ballot boxes, at a Jakarta polling station last week.

JAKARTA - Mr Prabowo Subianto reiterated his confidence that he had won last week's presidential election and insisted there were no cracks in his coalition.

He wants "consensus politics" and not "politics of provocation", he said after he and leaders of six parties behind his presidential bid pledged a permanent coalition for the next five years.

"That's the whole essence of my coalition. We are winning, all our figures show we are winning, that's why we are cool," he told foreign media yesterday.

Since rejecting quick-count results that mostly named his rival Joko Widodo as the winner of Wednesday's election, Mr Prabowo and his campaign team have charged that the quick counts were flawed and insisted that he had won.

Several members of Mr Prabowo's inner circle of advisers, including his brother and main campaign financier Hashim Djojohadikusumo, have threatened to take their dispute to the Constitutional Court, a sign that the battle for the presidency may not end even after the Election Commission (KPU) releases the official election results next Tuesday.

"We have a legal team. If we have the legal basis and we have evidence, yes (we will challenge)," he said, when asked if he was serious about challenging the results if they were not favourable to him.

The house belonging to one of his West Java branch coalition chiefs was burned down, he added, using that as an example of how his supporters have been intimidated, a claim that his campaign team has also made.

Mr Prabowo also slammed Mr Joko for making statements that implied that his camp would cheat. He said he would respect the KPU's decision, a promise, he added, Mr Joko has yet to make.

"I think... 15 times I've made public statements that I will honour the decision of the Indonesian people. Not once have I heard a statement from Mr Joko Widodo. Not once have I heard that he will respect the will of the Indonesian people as certified by the KPU."

Earlier at the event, a confident Mr Prabowo, flanked by his coalition partners, told supporters: "We remain steadfast in our struggle. Do not quiver, do not be daunted... the red-white coalition will win."

The crowd responded, joining him in shouting "Merdeka" (freedom) and "Allahu Akbar" (God is greatest).

At least eight quick counts done by established pollsters said Mr Joko won, beating his rival by up to 6 percentage points, while four lesser-known pollsters named Mr Prabowo as the winner.


This article was first published on July 15, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.