Defeated candidates call for probe into alleged election irregularities

Tense situation: Police watching protesters as they demonstrate in front of the General Election Commission office, calling for investigations following what they claim is a ‘rigged’ election. — AFP

Two unsuccessful candidates in last week’s Indonesian presidential election have urged parliament to look into complaints of irregularities in the run-up to the event.

The call comes despite comments by independent observers that there were no signs of systematic fraud in the world’s biggest single-day election, apart from matters such as outdated electoral rolls or polling delays.

With official results only due by March 20, unofficial counts show Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto won the race in a single round of voting, with about 58% of votes.

Rivals Anies Baswedan and Ganjar Pranowo are projected to have secured 25% and 17% respectively, with a preliminary count by election authorities showing a similar breakdown.

Both losing camps have complained of voter intimidation, manipulation of state institutions, and misuse of state resources during the campaign period.

They have alleged that these actions were intended to sway the election outcome, but have not provided evidence to the claims.

On Monday, Ganjar urged an inquiry when parliament reconvenes on March 5.

“Something like this must be investigated,” he said.

“At a minimum parliament should hold a hearing.”

Anies, a former governor of the capital Jakarta, said on Tuesday his camp was “ready to participate” in a parliamentary inquiry that allows lawmakers to investigate government actions.

“We see it as a good initiative.”

Anies does not belong to any political party but is backed by three while Ganjar is backed by two, including the biggest party in parliament, PDI-P.

Outgoing President Joko Widodo has faced criticism over his tacit endorsement of Prabowo and perceived attempts in the lead-up to voting day to influence the outcome.

However, he and his allies have denied such accusations.

An inquiry would be difficult to launch as it would need support from lawmakers, said Arya Fernandes of Indonesia’s Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“Even if the inquiry is approved, the outcome will not be able to annul election results,” he added, but would rather work to pressure the new government.

Prabowo, who lost the past two presidential elections in 2014 and 2019 contested the outcome both times in Indonesia’s Constitutional Court, citing widespread cheating.

The moves prompted violent street demonstrations.

Both efforts were rejected, however. — Reuters

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