05/15/2019, 18.53
INDONESIA
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Election results causing fears of riots in Jakarta

by Mathias Hariyadi

The winner in last month’s presidential race between incumbent President Joko Widodo and challenger Prabowo Subianto will be announced on 22 May. So far, 82.35 per cent of the votes have been counted with the moderate Widodo leading by 15 million votes. Supported by right-wingers and extremists, Prabowo said he would not accept "deceptive results". Meanwhile, the authorities have deployed the military across the capital.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – The anti-terrorism unit of the Indonesian police announced today the arrest of at least ten jihadists, suspected of planning attacks on the day set for the announcement of the results of last April’s presidential election.

The General Elections Commission (Komisi Pemilihan Umum, KPU) will announce the winner on 22 May. The two candidates were the incumbent, Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, and challenger Prabowo Subianto.

As the vote counting progresses, Widodo's lead seems to be consolidating. Supported by right-wingers and Islamic extremists, Prabowo warned yesterday that "he would not accept deceptive results", calling on his voters to do the same by denouncing electoral fraud.

The situation has led to rising tensions across the whole country. There are fears that riots might break out. More than 32,000 soldiers and policemen have been deployed to ensure public order in the capital alone.

With 82.35 per cent of the ballots counted, KPU this morning said that the president was leading with 70,945,538 votes against 55,198,953 for his challenger. The 15 million gap represents 12.48 per cent of the ballots cast.

Prabowo yesterday reacted trying to undermine the legitimacy of the Commission by claiming that "countless frauds and irregularities" had taken place, thus further inflaming the political climate.

On the evening of 17 April, shortly after the polls closed, Prabowo had already contradicted data provided by accredited pollsters saying that "someone is striving to make it seem we lost".

Most Indonesians listened to the statements with scepticism. He had claimed victory in 2014, when he was defeated by Widodo.

Last week, Prabowo supporters held two demonstrations at the headquarters of the General Election Supervisory Board (Bawaslu), calling for action against alleged irregularities.

For many Indonesians, Prabowo’s conduct is irrational. Already on election day, he had claimed that he had won 62 per cent of the votes, whilst now he is claiming 54.24 per cent.

Prabowo, who was once married to the daughter of the late dictator Haji Mohammad Suharto, has not revealed his sources, but insists he has evidence of wrongdoing.

Five of the seven members of the KPU were appointed in 2017 by parties that joined his coalition.

Complicating matters, Prabowo said he won’t recognise the results of the presidential election but will accept those of the parliamentary elections held on the same day.

Prabowo’s position has caused a rift within his coalition. The Democratic Party (DP) and the National Mandate Party (PAN) have both distanced themselves from their candidate.

At the same time, the police are investigating some of the most radical leaders in Prabowo’s faction, something that is further isolating him.

Still, prominent figures like Retired General Kivlan Zen and fundamentalist lawyer Eddy Sudjana had threatened to resort to street protests, in a "people’s power" style, against Widodo and the KPU.

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