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Indonesia elections

Indonesia’s losing candidates urge court to disqualify president-elect

Indonesia’s losing candidates urge court to disqualify president-elect
Presidential candidate Ganjar Pranowo (C) and his running mate Mahfud MD (C-R) arrive for a hearing session on the legal challenge against the presidential election result at the constitutional court in Jakarta, Indonesia, 27 March 2024. Legal cases were filed from losing presidential candidates Anies Baswedan and Ganjar Pranowo to challenge the Indonesian presidential election result after Prabowo Subianto and his running mate Gibran Rakabuming Raka won the presidential race in the world's largest single-day vote. EPA-EFE/MAST IRHAM

JAKARTA, March 27 (Reuters) - Indonesia's losing presidential candidates laid out their court challenge on Wednesday to last month's election, accusing the state of interference and urging a poll re-run and disqualification of the winner, Prabowo Subianto.

Former governors Anies Baswedan and Ganjar Pranowo said the resounding victory of Defence Minister Prabowo was helped by pressure on regional officials from a partisan administration and President Joko Widodo, with social aid used as a tool to ensure just one outcome.

Anies said the election showed the world’s third-largest democracy was at risk of sliding back towards its authoritarian past, and warned it could set a bad precedent.

“This practice will be perceived as normal, a habit,” he told the Constitutional Court.

The outgoing administration of Jokowi, as the president is widely known, has rejected accusations of election interference.

Prabowo received nearly 60% of the votes, helped by the tacit backing of hugely popular former rival Jokowi.

He promised to maintain his predecessor’s agenda of refurbishing infrastructure, adding jobs and developing downstream industries to better exploit Indonesia’s vast mineral resources.

Anies received a quarter of the vote and the third-placed Ganjar Pranowo took 16%.

 

CALL FOR NEUTRALITY

Challenges to election outcomes are typical in Indonesia and the court is expected to hand down its decision on April 22.

Anies’ team urged the court to disqualify Prabowo from the ballot as a beneficiary of unfair practices, asking it to order Jokowi to keep neutral in any re-run of the election and not use the state apparatus or budget to help one candidate.

Jokowi’s conflicts of interest violated a constitutional provision for fair and just elections, as well as the law on corruption in state governance, his legal team said.

“Was the 2024 election held freely, honestly, and justly?” Anies asked the court. “Allow us to answer: No. What happened was the opposite.”

Prabowo has maintained he won clearly and fairly. Both candidates’ presentation lacked evidence, his legal team said on Wednesday, adding there had never been a re-run of a presidential election in Indonesian history.

Ganjar’s team asked the court to order an election re-run by June 26, disqualifying Prabowo and his running mate Gibran Rakabuming Raka, who is Jokowi’s son, saying his last-minute inclusion on the ticket had unfairly influenced the vote.

Jokowi’s “nepotism and abuse of power” regarding the election violated the constitution, they added, citing Gibran’s candidacy and appointment of his supporters in regional roles.

“Violations in the election are surprising to us because they destroyed our morals, which is an abuse of power,” Ganjar told the court.

Gibran was only able to run due to a sudden rule change by the same court where Jokowi’s brother-in-law, Anwar Usman, was chief justice.

Anwar has been barred from presiding over election disputes since an ethics panel found him guilty of violations.

Jokowi’s supporters denied that he abused his position to help Prabowo.

Election analyst Titi Anggraini said complaints by Anies and Ganjar about the role of the president’s son in the election could be tricky, as the same court allowed him to run.

“The people who are presiding over their case are at the centre of the problems surrounding the 2024 elections,” she added.

(Reporting by Stanley Widianto and Ananda Teresia; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan, Clarence Fernandez and Alex Richardson)

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