Indonesia court rejects presidential election challenge


Presidential election challengers Anies Baswedan (front centre) and Muhaimin Iskandar (front right) and their lawyers react as the judges read their decision at the Constitutional Court in Jakarta on April 22, 2024. - AFP

JAKARTA: Indonesia's constitutional court on Monday (April 22) rejected a challenge to the country's presidential vote won by Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto, after his main rival alleged rules were unfairly changed to allow the outgoing leader's son to run as his vice president.

Prabowo, 72, was confirmed in February as the next leader of the world's third-biggest democracy, beating former Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan and a third rival with 58.6 per cent of the vote.

The president-elect's campaign was mired in allegations that outgoing leader Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, had interfered in a bid to boost Prabowo's campaign.

He was accused of engineering rule changes that allowed his eldest son Gibran Rakabuming Raka to run for vice president.

Anies -- who received 24.9 per cent of the vote -- refused to concede after official results were announced, claiming the state had intervened to help Prabowo win and calling for a re-run.

He claimed the state had intervened to engineer Prabowo's win, including social aid donations to sway voters.

But the court shot down his complaint, arguing that nepotism or state intervention had not been proven.

"The court rejected the exception (filed by Anies) in its entirety. Rejected the appeal in its entirety," said chief justice Suhartoyo, who goes by one name.

Ganjar Pranowo -- who finished in third place with about 16 per cent -- also refused to concede and moved to challenge the result. The court is still to rule on his objection.

Jokowi was criticised after his brother-in-law, then-chief justice Anwar Usman, issued an October ruling lowering the age requirements for presidential and vice presidential candidates that allowed 36-year-old Gibran to run with Prabowo.

The requirements were lowered to allow candidates under 40 to run if they had been elected to a political position. Gibran is the mayor of Java's Surakarta city.

Gibran joining Prabowo's team strapped an election rocket to the campaign, with the defence minister's poll numbers soaring in the following months.

Prabowo was therefore widely predicted to win the presidency on his third attempt after losing in 2014 and 2019.

He has dismissed his rivals' claims as baseless, and is due to take over in October after a transition period. - AFP

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