Indonesia's largest party eyes probe into alleged election irregularities


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JAKARTA: The biggest party in Indonesia's parliament is seeking a legislative investigation into alleged violations around this month's presidential election and plans also to file a case with a top court, a senior party official said on Monday.

The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) backed Ganjar Pranowo for the presidency, who finished a distant third behind Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto, the clear winner of the Feb. 14 election according to unofficial vote tallies and an ongoing preliminary count by the poll body.

"We found there was abuse of power, ranging from legal aspects to the use of state facilities," PDIP Secretary General Hasto Kristiyanto told Reuters, without providing specifics or evidence to support the allegation.

The presidential palace did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the allegations or the planned investigation.

Despite various accusations by parties, none have provided specifics or details of the scale of the alleged violations.

Though the Constitutional Court typically handles election disputes, Indonesia's parliament has the power to investigate government policy or implementation of certain regulations and can examine the conduct of public officials, including the president.

Hasto said PDIP and other backers of Ganjar would file a case over alleged electoral irregularities with the Constitutional Court, but gave no timeframe. He said the investigation aimed to safeguard democracy.

"If we did not do this comprehensive correction, then what's the point of having an election in the future?" he said, adding PDIP did not intend to impeach President Joko Widodo, better known as Jokowi.

HUGE WIN

Parliament reconvenes next month and for a probe to be launched, it must be approved by more than half of legislators present at a plenary session.

Prabowo looks to have swept the Feb. 14 election in his third attempt at the presidency, with almost 60% of the votes tallied, boosted by the tacit backing of Jokowi, who has faced mounting allegations of ethical breaches and meddling, which his allies deny.

Prabowo also ran on a ticket with Jokowi's son, owing to a last-minute decision by the Constitutional Court, headed by the president's brother-in-law, to change election eligibility rules.

PDIP's plan is backed by another pro-Ganjar party and has the support also of three parties that endorsed second-placed finisher, Anies Baswedan. If combined, those constitute a majority, with 314 of 575 seats.

In a report on Indonesia's election last week, poll monitor the Asian Network for Free Elections noted widespread concerns about the independence of the election commission and mobilisation and misuse of state resources to sway voter preferences, adding "it would be of a disservice to the electoral stakeholders" if those were to go unaddressed.

Hermawi Taslim, a top official of NasDem, which backed Anies, said his party supported PDIP's plan.

"The probe is needed so the upcoming government is legitimate," he added.

(Reporting by Ananda Teresia and Stefanno Sulaiman; Editing by Martin Petty) - Reuters

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