You are here

Indonesia court upholds Jokowi's presidential win

JAKARTA Governor Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, has been confirmed the winner of the country's July 9 presidential election, as Indonesia's Constitutional Court last night rejected an appeal by former special forces general Prabowo Subianto claiming the poll was rigged.

The Court's nine justices, the final arbiters of Indonesia's election disputes, earlier in the day knocked back one of the central claims of the Prabowo camp.

Reading from a 4,000-page ruling, the longest verdict the Court has ever handed down, Chief Justice Hamdan Zoelva gave the green light to some three million votes cast by those added late to the electoral rolls last December because the Election Commission was slow to give them voter registration numbers. Jokowi won the election by a margin of eight million votes.

"The supplementary voter lists ensure the equality of each vote," CJ Zoelva said.

The Jakarta Composite Index rose 0.3 per cent yesterday to its highest close since May 22 last year. The gauge reversed an intraday decline as the Court read out the ruling. PT Bank Rakyat Indonesia gained 1.6 per cent, providing the biggest boost for the index.

The day was one of high drama but relatively little violence. Thousands of riot police repelled an attempt to storm the Court by Prabowo loyalists. Tens of thousands of police and soldiers took positions throughout the city's business district, government offices and high-ranking officials' residences, including those of Jokowi's party, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle.

Scenes of that heavy police presence appear to have had a lasting effect on voters who have become exasperated with Mr Prabowo's protracted election dispute. Opinion polls have indicated a jump in support for Jokowi, who will be inaugurated Indonesia's second directly elected president on Oct 20.

From the outset of their deliberations on July 25, the justices appeared unconvinced by Mr Prabowo's claims that he lost the election because of "massive" and "systemic" fraud. They forced Mr Prabowo's lawyers to refile their suit, which sought re-voting in some of the country's most populated regions, because of factual errors and even garbled sentences.

Mr Prabowo's aim was to "shake the system", says long-time Indonesian analyst Kevin Evans.

Some 16 years after riots forced president Suharto from office, Mr Prabowo, who was Suharto's former son-in-law, sought to ignite voter passions similar to disputes between political camps in Thailand. Instead, Indonesians have remained calm and their institutions worked, Mr Evans said.

"There are no red shirts and yellow shirts," said Mr Evans, referring to the short-hand reference for Thailand's opposing camps.

"There are only orange shirts here. People voted and got on with their lives. Indonesia has passed an important test today."

What's more, the country's massive show of force left no doubt that the former three-star general has no allies left in the armed services. Outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has indicated that he is keen to preserve his legacy by overseeing the first peaceful transfer of power between democratically elected presidents.

What's unclear, though, is the fate of Mr Prabowo's parliamentary coalition, which controls more than half of the seats in the House of Representatives. Senior members of Golkar, which placed second in the April 9 parliamentary elections, have indicated they are eager to play a part in the incoming administration.

Mr Prabowo's own campaign manager, Mahfud MD - a former Constitutional Court chief justice - resigned following the election, saying he failed to deliver Mr Prabowo a mandate.

Mr Prabowo, by some accounts, has been campaigning for a decade, only to see his dream of moving into the State Palace dashed by a relative political neophyte. As he hangs on, he risks eroding his credibility and the chances of reviving his fortunes in time for 2019.

"I don't want Jakarta to become (a state) of chaos," said Weny Sayekti, a business manager, who voted for Mr Prabowo. "I regret voting for him."