Indonesia court dismisses election challenge

An Indonesian court has unanimously upheld the re-election of President Joko Widodo, rejecting a petition by his challenger disputing the result.

A panel of nine judges at the Constitutional Court in Jakarta said there was a lack of evidence to support Prabowo Subianto’s appeal against “Jokowi” being named the winner of the April 17 election with 55.5 per cent of votes.

“The allegations of structured, systematic and massive fraud could not be proven and therefore the argument is legally baseless,” Judge Aswanto told the court.

Subianto has been linked to human rights abuses during the Suharto dictatorship.

It was the last legal recourse for Subianto. The retired general alleged irregularities and fraud at the polls and called for a fresh vote, as he did after his defeat in the 2014 election. Court documents filed showed the evidence was mainly printouts of news articles.

The election campaign questioned the president’s religious credentials and his alleged ties to China. More religiously conservative regions, like West Java, West Sumatra and Aceh, overwhelmingly voted for Prabowo, who was backed by fundamentalist Islamic groups.

Jokowi has an increased coalition majority in parliament which will help him pass tough laws to open up Asean’s largest economy and attract foreign investment to find his vast infrastructural projects.

“The government can now focus on structural reforms, especially on efforts to invite FDI,” said David Sumual, chief economist of PT Bank Central Asia in Jakarta. He added that “the country may lose reform momentum unless Jokowi opts to soon reshuffle the cabinet” in order to “guard reform in his second term.”

After the verdict, Jokowi said the election and the court proceedings had been transparent, calling for unity after months of post-election instability.

Prabowo said that while the court’s ruling was “disappointing” he respected the decision and urged his supporters to also respect the ruling.

“We will dutifully follow our constitution … and the applicable laws in this country,” he said.

But a group which backed his campaign has said it would gather 100,000 people for a rally in Jakarta, prompting the deployment of 47,000 security personnel. Nine people were killed and hundreds injured in two days of clashes amid protests against the official election announcement last month.

President Joko Widodo needs to address Indonesia’s infrastructural woes. Picture credit: Wikimedia