Losing candidates in Indonesia urge court to disqualify president-elect

Written by Stanley Widianto and Ananda Teresa

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Losing candidates in Indonesia's presidential election filed their appeal in court on Wednesday against last month's election, accusing the state of meddling and urging a rerun of the vote and the disqualification of the winner, Prabowo Subianto.

Former governors Anies Baswedan and Ganjar Prabowo said Defense Minister Prabowo's resounding victory was backed by pressure on regional officials from the party administration and President Joko Widodo, with social aid used as a tool to ensure only one outcome.

Anis said that the elections showed that the third largest democracy in the world was at risk of sliding back into its authoritarian past, and warned that it could set a bad precedent.

“This practice would be seen as normal, ordinarily,” he told the Constitutional Court.

The outgoing administration of Jokowi, as the president is widely known, has rejected accusations of election interference.

Prabowo received nearly 60% of the vote, helped by the tacit support of his popular former rival Jokowi.

He promised to maintain his predecessor's agenda of revamping infrastructure, adding jobs and developing manufacturing industries to better exploit Indonesia's vast mineral resources.

Anis received a quarter of the votes, while Janjar Branwo, who ranked third, received 16%.

Call for neutrality

Challenges to election results are common in Indonesia, and the court is expected to issue its decision on April 22.

Anies' team urged the court to exclude Prabowo from the ballot as a beneficiary of unfair practices, and asked it to order Jokowi to remain neutral in any rerun and not use the state apparatus or budget to help a single candidate.

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His legal team said Jokowi's conflict of interest violated a constitutional provision mandating fair and just elections, as well as an anti-corruption law in state governance.

He asked, “Were the 2024 elections held freely, fairly, and justly?” Anis asked the court. “Let us answer: No. What happened was the opposite.”

Prabowo emphasized that he won clearly and fairly. His legal team said on Wednesday that the offer made by the two candidates lacked evidence, adding that there had never been a rerun of a presidential election in Indonesia's history.

Janjar's team asked the court to order a rerun of the election by June 26, disqualifying Prabowo and his deputy, Gebran Rakabuming Raka, who is Jokowi's son, saying his last-minute inclusion on the list unfairly influenced the vote.

They added that Jokowi's “nepotism and abuse of power” regarding the elections violated the constitution, citing Gebran's nomination and appointment of his supporters to regional roles.

“The election violations are surprising to us because they have destroyed our morals, and it is an abuse of power,” Ginger told the court.

Gebran was only able to run because of a sudden change in rules by the same court where Jokowi's son-in-law, Anwar Usman, was president.

Anwar has been banned from presiding over electoral disputes since the Ethics Commission found him guilty of violations.

Jokowi's supporters have denied that he abused his position to help Prabowo.

Electoral analyst Titi Anggraini said that Anis and Janjar's complaints about the role of the president's son in the elections may be difficult because the court itself allowed him to run.

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“The people leading their case are at the heart of the problems surrounding the 2024 elections,” she added.

(Reporting by Stanley Widyanto and Ananda Theresia; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan, Clarence Fernandes and Alex Richardson)

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