Prabowo Seeks Indonesia Vote Repeat in Legal Challenge

Prabowo Subianto, the former general who has refused to concede defeat in Indonesia’s presidential ballot, said he won the election and filed a suit seeking new voting in as many as six provinces.

Prabowo’s campaign has 10 metric tons (22,000 pounds) of documentary evidence that alleges “massive” and systemic fraud in the July 9 vote, his brother and economic adviser Hashim Djojohadikusumo said in an interview yesterday. If the legal challenge fails, Prabowo, 62, may concede and then “harass” the government with an active parliamentary opposition, Hashim said.

Prabowo won 50.25 percent of the ballots cast, his lawyer Maqdir Ismail said in Jakarta late yesterday. The suit challenges the official July 22 results that said the ex-general lost to Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo by more than eight million votes and risks creating uncertainty for investors in Asia’s fifth-biggest economy.

“The main basis of the challenge is that the election commission has not acted even according to their own rules,” Hashim, a businessman and son of Suharto-era finance minister Sumitro Djojohadikusumo, said at his office in Jakarta. “I think we can prove it. We have an enormous amount of evidence.”

The Market Vectors Indonesia ETF declined 1.7 percent to $26.75 as of 1:45 p.m. in New York on July 25, the lowest in a week. One-month non-deliverable forwards on the rupiah weakened 0.2 percent to 11,628 per dollar. The rupiah fell 0.1 percent yesterday in Jakarta.

21.9 Million Votes

The rupiah jumped and Indonesian stocks advanced on July 23 after Widodo’s win was declared by the election commission, an indication of investors’ preference for his economic platform, seen as more market-friendly.

The commission said on July 22 that Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, won 71 million votes -- or 53.15 percent -- and Prabowo 62.6 million votes -- or 46.9 percent -- in the presidential ballot.

The Prabowo campaign questions the validity of 21.9 million votes, Prabowo lawyer Ismail said yesterday. The Constitutional Court is likely to begin hearing the case on Aug. 6, he said.

“Officially Jokowi’s not the winner yet” because the Constitutional Court has yet to rule, and because of that Prabowo won’t concede, Hashim said. “Ideally, we would like to have a re-vote,” he said. All seven parties in Prabowo’s electoral coalition back the suit, including running mate Hatta Rajasa and Golkar party head Aburizal Bakrie, Hashim said, dismissing talk of cracks among the group.

Yudhoyono’s Message

Prabowo’s coalition found irregularities in 5,800 polling booths in Jakarta, and in one case 600 people cast ballots at a booth that had a voter list of only 300, Hashim said. Prabowo’s legal team has said the suit will question procedures at about 59,000 polling stations in total. Prabowo has called the poll “undemocratic.”

“The court is unlikely to overturn the results considering public and international scrutiny is high,” said Lina Gautama, a Singapore-based research associate at consultancy Control Risks. “Hamdan Zoelva, who is currently the chief justice, has promised that he will make this transparent and the proceedings will be made public through direct videos.”

Outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called for calm in a YouTube message posted yesterday on his Twitter account and again congratulated Jokowi.

Xi, Obama

“We must trust KPU and respect the results of vote counting done by the KPU,” he said, referring to the election commission by its Indonesian initials. “We have to respect Pak Jokowi together with Pak Jusuf Kalla, whom the KPU has declared winners in this presidential election. If Pak Jokowi and his supporters are expressing gratitude, rejoicing, and celebrating, it is reasonable and we have to respect that.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping joined other world leaders in congratulating Widodo on his win, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday. In a message, Xi said China has made Indonesia a priority in regional diplomacy and sees it as a reliable partner, Xinhua reported. U.S. President Barack Obama called Jokowi after the results, the White House said July 23.

Prabowo’s effort to swing the result will focus attention on a court previously tainted by corruption to issue a decision rooted in the law. Failure to do so would be a setback for a young democracy still emerging from decades of rule by dictator Suharto and may risk street protests.

Constitutional Court

Jokowi has not commented on Prabowo’s allegations and instead called for national unity after the most divisive election since Indonesia Suharto was ousted in 1998. The campaign between Jokowi, 53, and Prabowo, a former special forces chief once married to Suharto’s daughter, split the country between those looking for a more liberal democracy and those nostalgic for a leader who projects strength.

The court would have about a week to decide whether to accept Prabowo’s case, according to court legislation. If it chooses to do so, the judges would hear arguments in August and rule by Aug. 24, in time for the next president to take over on Oct. 20, when Yudhoyono’s second term ends. The court’s decision, which does not require a consensus, would be final.

If the legal suit fails, Prabowo will remain in politics and seek a “very vigorous and active” opposition, with his coalition currently having a majority of parliamentary seats, Hashim said. It plans to push forward its economic manifesto, calling for improvements on infrastructure, energy and food security, education and tax collection, whether in power or not.

“We want to achieve a lot of things in opposition,” said Hashim, whose son and daughter were elected to parliament for Prabowo’s Gerindra party. This would include supporting a Jokowi government to gradually curb fuel subsidies and to strengthen the country’s anti-corruption agency. Prabowo, who Hashim said had previously turned down an offer from Yudhoyono for the “lucrative” mining and energy minister’s job, may let younger people take his place to run for president in 2019.

“At the moment, his feeling is he doesn’t want to run,” Hashim said.

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