You are here

Indonesia court upholds Jokowi's victory in April presidential election

BT_20190628_NAHJOKO28_3821092.jpg
Supporters of Mr Prabowo at a protest near the Constitutional Court in Jakarta before the verdict on Thursday. Mr Joko is scheduled to be sworn in for a second five-year term in October.

Jakarta

AN Indonesian court has unanimously upheld the re-election of President Joko Widodo, rejecting a petition by his challenger disputing the official result and ending months of political uncertainty in the world's third-largest democracy.

The Constitutional Court in Jakarta on Thursday cited a lack of evidence to dismiss Prabowo Subianto's appeal against the General Elections Commission's declaring Mr Joko the winner of the April 17 election.

The court's Chief Justice Anwar Usman declared the finding that Mr Joko was the winner of the Apr 17 election was legal. Mr Prabowo, who challenged Mr Joko in a bitterly contested election, had repeatedly claimed victory, alleging irregularities in the polls. The former general initiated the legal case, which was seeking the disqualification of Mr Joko and a fresh vote.

The election campaign was marred by identity politics, with the opposition targeting the president's religious credentials and his alleged proximity to China. Some of the most conservative regions - such as West Java, West Sumatra and Aceh - overwhelmingly voted for Mr Prabowo, who was backed by hardline Islamic groups and parties, data from the elections commission showed.

The court ruling should help heal the divide caused by the disputed outcome and allow Mr Joko to focus on steps to shield South-east Asia's largest economy from an escalating US-China trade war that's threatening to hurt growth and fuel a trade deficit. The president heads into the second term with an increased coalition majority in parliament, which will help him pass tough laws to open up the economy and draw foreign investors. "The government can now focus on structural reforms, especially on efforts to invite FDI," said David Sumual, chief economist of PT Bank Central Asia in Jakarta. He added it was important that Mr Joko not delay forming his new cabinet team, noting "the country may lose reform momentum unless he opts to soon reshuffle the cabinet to guard reform in his second term".

With a group backing Mr Prabowo pledging to gather 100,000 people for a rally on Thursday, authorities deployed 47,000 security personnel around the court, the president's palace, parliament and the election commission's offices. Nine people were killed and hundreds injured in two days of violent clashes amid protests against the official announcement last month of Mr Joko's win.

Though the police have barred groups from holding any rallies around the court, PA 212 - which organised mass demonstrations to seek the jailing of former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama in 2016 - had mobilised hundreds of its supporters in the capital from early Thursday. Coordinating Minister for Politics, Legal and Security Affairs Wiranto said police will act against those defying the ban on gatherings.

Mr Joko, who won 55.5 per cent of the vote, is scheduled to be sworn in for a second five-year term in October. BLOOMBERG