Indonesia’s election commission is on course to release the results of the July 9 presidential election by tomorrow, even as the team of ex-general Prabowo Subianto called for a delay.
Prabowo’s team will file a police report against the General Elections Commission, known as the KPU, for proceeding with the vote count after it called for a delay, Didi Supriyanto, one of his legal advisers, said by telephone today in Jakarta. Prabowo’s camp yesterday asked the KPU to halt the vote count, saying there was evidence of “massive” fraud to affect the outcome as their candidate trailed Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo, 53, in unofficial tallies.
Ensuring a calm transfer of power is crucial for Indonesia as it seeks to assure investors the nation’s closest election in more than a decade won’t erode the democratic and economic progress of the past 16 years. Prabowo, 62, has said he’ll contest the result in the constitutional court, the country’s highest, if his legal team gathers the evidence to do so, a move that would create uncertainty for voters and investors in the world’s third-largest democracy.
“He’s basically trying to create the perception that there is a problem by raising it to the police,” said Achmad Sukarsono, associate fellow at Jakarta-based research institute The Habibie Center, referring to Prabowo. “The police cannot delay the announcement,” he said, adding that would need a clear disturbance to the process such as an earthquake.
The KPU has scheduled the vote announcement for tomorrow, Commissioner Arief Budiman said in a text message last night, although by law it has 30 days from the polling date. The KPU has finished the vote count for 20 out of 33 provinces as of 4 p.m. today and is optimistic of completing it by tomorrow, Hadar Gumay, a member of the commission, said today.
“It is utterly unrealistic to delay the results announcement even as it is something guaranteed by the constitution,” said Emrus Sihombing, a political communications lecturer at Universitas Pelita Harapan in Tangerang outside Jakarta.
“There is no extraordinary problem or massive fraud. Yes there are a few mistakes and maybe ignored procedures, but vote recounts have been ordered in some electoral booths. For any candidate to call for a delay, it’s not strategic, it is not strong enough of a reason.”
By law, any deferral in the results could only be until Aug. 9, according to Susi Dwi Harjanti, an associate professor of constitutional law at Padjadjaran University in Bandung, West Java.
“Prabowo is struggling to find a way out of the position he has put himself in,” said Steve Wilford, Asia-Pacific director based in Singapore for consultancy Control Risks. “He has gone on the record in front of international media that he will respect the decision of the KPU.”
The result announcement process has to be in line with the law, Widodo’s running mate Jusuf Kalla told reporters last night. “If the law says July 22, then July 22. It’s not our will. If there’s anyone against it, it’s against the law.”
The Elections Supervisory Agency, known as Bawaslu, scrutinized the Prabowo camp requests for recounts and only did re-voting at 13 polling stations, its chairman Muhammad told reporters last night in Jakarta.
“In a way it’s an admission of loss, you won’t be demanding all of this if you think that you’re winning,” said The Habibie Center’s Sukarsono. “Even if there is an announcement on the 22nd tomorrow, that means that Prabowo will very likely go to the constitutional court to challenge the result.”