06/14/2019, 16.50
INDONESIA
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Constitutional Court holds first hearing in Prabowo appeal

The defeated presidential candidate claims the president’s victory was marred by irregularities. To avoid further violence, 32,000 soldiers and police officers have been deployed in the capital. Hundreds of Prabowo supporters have gathered at the National Monument. The Court will issue its ruling on 28 June.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Amid great expectation and tight security measures, Indonesia’s Constitutional Court (Mahkamah Konstitusi, MK) began hearing (pictured) the appeal filed by the country’s opposition against the results of  April’s presidential election.

The defeated candidate, Prabowo Subianto, filed a lawsuit on 24 May asking that the election be annulled, and incumbent President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and his running mate, Ma'ruf Amin, disqualified.

Prabowo claims that the electoral process marred by irregularities, which led to his rival’s victory. The Court is scheduled to rule on the matter by 28 June.

On 21 May, the Election Commission (Komisi Pemilihan Umum, KPU) announced that Widodo and Ma’ruf won the elections with 55.5 per cent of the vote, against 44.5 per cent for Prabowo and Sandiaga Uno. The incumbent president won 85.6 million votes out 154 million valid ballots.

Since then, supported by Islamists and right-wing groups, the opposition has refused to acknowledge defeat. Both the Election Commission and the Election Supervisory Board (Bawaslu) deny any irregularity in voting operations.

In court, Prabowo's lawyers have complained about that Widodo's campaign finances and use of state institutions as propaganda tools, so that the election result came about due to "illegal actions, fraud and abuse of power, which are structured, systematic and massive".

The lawyers also claim that police and military personnel were pressurised to vote for Widodo and that the government boosted public sector salaries to buy votes.

In the days before the election results were announced, Prabowo repeatedly urged voters to express their dissent, raising the authorities' fears. Even prominent figures connected to Prabowo threatened to resort to people-power style action against Widodo and the Election Commission.

Immediately after it released the results, violent clashes broke out in Jakarta between Prabowo supporters and the police. Between 21 and 22 May, eight people died in riots with about 900 injured.

Right after, police arrested dozens of suspected instigators, including one of Prabowo’s loyalist, former General Kivlan Zen, on charges of plotting to kill senior security officials.

Today, as the nine constitutional judges began hearing he case this morning, hundreds of people gathered at the National Monument (Monumen Nasional, Monas), violating a police ban that prohibits demonstration outside or near the Constitutional Court.

According to media reports, the crowd numbered between 1,500 and 2,000. Members of various groups, including university students, took part in action. Three days ago, Prabowo launched an appeal to his supporters not go near the Constitutional Court building.

Fearing new clashes, the authorities have deployed 32,000 soldiers and police officers on the streets of the capital. The security forces announced this morning that agents will not be equipped with firearms or lethal weapons, but only with shields, tear gas and water cannons.

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