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Prabowo-Gibran team wins in Indonesia Constitutional Court

By Leonardus Jegho in Jakarta | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-04-22 21:48

Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto (C), ccompanied by his coalition party leaders, delivers his victory speech at his residence in Jakarta on March 20 2024, shortly after his election was confirmed by the General Election Commission. [Photo/Agencies]

The Indonesian Constitutional Court has rejected, on April 22, the complaint filed by the losing parties in the presidential elections, noting that the allegations submitted to the court "have no legal basis".

The court's verdict has effectively legitimized the landslide victory of Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto and his running mate Gibran Rakabuming Raka, the eldest son of outgoing President Joko Widodo. The duo will be sworn in as the country's president and vice-president in October and will serve a five-year term each.

"The court rejects all the requests (for a repeat of presidential elections)," Suhartoyo, chairman of the constitutional court, said as he read out the court's decision on the allegations of fraud made by Prabowo's opponents – Anies Baswedan and Ganjar Pranowo. Anies and Ganjar had petitioned the court for a repeat of the presidential election, alleging that "structured, systematic and massive" fraud was committed in in the Feb 14 polls.

Three of the eight judges of the court have also read out their dissenting opinion and demanded for a repeat of the elections in the capital city of Jakarta and the provinces of West Java, East Java, Bali and North Sumatra.

The court's decision was released two weeks after it received and processed the complaints filed by Anies and Ganjar. Anies and Ganjar, however, won't be able to file an appeal as the court's decision is final and binding.

Nixon Silfanus, chief commissioner of an investment management firm in Jakarta, appreciates that the losing parties brought their case to the court, preventing their supporters from resorting to violence.

"As for us from the business community, we always want (political) stability. Any court ruling in favor of the losing pairs (in the 2024 election) will lead to instability," Silfanus said.

Before issuing its verdict, the court held hearings and interviewed witnesses to investigate allegations against Prabowo and Gibran. Anies and Ganjar alleged that Widodo's administration used the popular social aid distribution program and deployed security people and other state agencies to shore up votes for Prabowo and Gibran. They said this is against existing rules that dictate that the incumbent president must stay neutral during the campaign season.

Anies and Ganjar also alleged that Gibran's nomination as vice presidential candidate had been illegitimate. Under existing election laws only citizens aged 40 and more are eligible for presidential and vice presidential nominations. But under then presiding judge Anwar Usman, who is President Joko Widodo's brother-in-law, the Constitutional Court has issued a ruling that amended the minimum age limit, thus allowing the 36-year-old Gibran to stand for elections.

Anwar was forced to step down from his post in November 2023 after the ethics council of the Constitutional Court found him guilty of ethical violations for his failure to recuse himself from a case that would effectively benefit his nephew. Despite Anwar's demotion, the court declined to reverse its ruling on legal age limits amid mounting legal challenges from various individuals and groups.

Nus Bilo, deputy head of the State Defense Academy of the NasDem Party and a member of its legal section, said, "Clean general elections show the nobility of a nation." NasDem leads the coalition that supported Anies' candidacy.

Arya Fernandez, head of the Department of Politics and Social Change at the Center of Strategic and International Studies in Jakarta, said that, due to political considerations, the Court could not disqualify the results of the 2024 presidential election, Prabowo-Gibran as the winner.

"The request (from the two losing contestants) that revote be held nationwide is quite grave," he said, pointing to the 58 percent of the national votes secured by the winning Prabowo-Gibran pair in the Feb 14 election.

Yoes Kenawas, a research fellow at Atmajaya Catholic University in Jakarta, said that people should accept today's decision of the Constitutional Court because judges had found it difficult to get evidence that there had been "structured, systematic and massive" election frauds – that involved President Widodo's government/bureaucracy officials - as strongly claimed by the two losing presidential candidates and political activists.

Both Fernandez and Kenawas found the fact that three of the eight judges expressed their dissenting opinion encouraging and significant for the nation. It is the first case in the country's general election history, and it teaches citizens to be more aware of election frauds and their negative consequences to their life as a nation.

Prime Sarmiento in Hong Kong contributed to this story.

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