Indonesian Authorities Warn against Unrest as President, Rival Claim Poll Triumph

Keisyah Aprilia and Tia Asmara
190418-ID-jokowi-1000.jpg Indonesian President Joko Widodo (center) walks with Hasto Kristiyanto, secretary general of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), for a meeting in Jakarta with leaders of his coalition parties, April 18, 2019.

Updated at 5:18 p.m. ET on 2019-04-18

Any post-poll unrest would be dealt with sternly, Indonesia’s security minister and military chief both warned on Thursday after opposition candidate Prabowo Subianto rejected unofficial counts indicating that incumbent Joko “Jokowi” Widodo had won the presidential election.

Tensions rose after Prabowo claimed victory late Wednesday, hours after polls closed across the country, despite quick counts by at least five independent pollsters showing Jokowi leading with 54 percent of the votes, compared to 46 percent for his challenger.

“We will not tolerate and will take stern action against attempts to disturb public order or unconstitutional acts that undermine the democratic process,” Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto, the nation’s armed forces chief, told a news conference.

Security affairs minister Wiranto, who uses only one name, said a turnout of nearly 81 percent gave the election winner “strong legitimacy.”

Despite the competing claims, Wiranto assured the public that soldiers and police could deal with any threat to national security.

“We appeal to member of the public to remain calm and refrain from engaging in anarchic acts,” he said.

Jokowi, who claimed victory in a statement late Wednesday, called for calm and said he had confidence in the accuracy of the quick counts.

“But we are still waiting for the official count from the KPU,” Jokowi, 57, told reporters on Thursday, using the acronym for the General Election Commission, which is required to release official results by May 22.

He also said he had sent an aide to meet with the Prabowo camp to talk about reducing tensions.

But Prabowo remained defiant, claiming victory once again on Thursday.

He said his claim was based on his campaign team’s own counts that showed him winning 62 percent of the vote in more than 320,000 polling stations.

“We are declaring our victory early because we have proof that there have been various attempts at fraud in many villages, sub-districts, districts, regencies, and cities across Indonesia,” Prabowo told a news conference at his south Jakarta house.

Prabowo, a 67-year-old former army special forces commander, was accompanied by his running mate, Sandiaga Uno, and former national assembly chief Amien Rais. The duo were not seen when Prabowo first claimed victory Wednesday night.

Nevertheless, Prabowo urged his supporters to remain peaceful. “We urge our supporters not to be complacent and refrain from acting excessively,” he said.

“We will be a president and vice president for all Indonesians, for the glory of our beloved Indonesia,” he said, ending his speech with cries of Allahu akbar, the Arabic phrase for “God is great.”

Jokowi, meanwhile, said Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, as well leaders from 10 other countries had congratulated him on the peaceful elections.

Representatives of other countries also offered their congratulations.

“This is an interesting experience for me and in my opinion everything went smoothly. It was well organized,” a representative of the Japanese Embassy, ​​Miki Nakata, said in a statement received by BenarNews.

Quick counts, which have been accurate in previous elections, also showed that Jokowi’s Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) was likely to win the parliamentary elections – which were also held on Wednesday – with almost 20 percent of the votes.

Prabowo’s Gerindra party was in second place with nearly 13 per cent of the votes, according to quick counts.

About 80 percent of 190 million eligible Indonesians voted at some 800,000 polling stations across the country, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Jakarta think-tank.

Voters were electing a president, 575 members of the House of Representatives (DPR), 136 members of the Regional Representative Council (DPD) and almost 20,000 members of local legislatures in 548 provinces, districts and municipalities.

Papua residents join vote

Seven districts in Papua conducted voting on Thursday after more than 1,000 polling stations failed to provide ballot papers on time, officials said Thursday.

More than 160,000 people were expected to cast their votes in 744 polling stations in South Jayapura and Abepura Districts in the regency of Jayapura.

“Twenty-two regencies had held elections. Only 20 districts in seven regencies conduct the make-up election,” Theodorus Kossay, chairman of the Papua Province General Election Commission, told BenarNews.

He said bad weather had delayed the distribution of election-related materials.

Papua Gov. Lukas Enembe said he was disappointed with the election commission. He was one of many voters who arrived to cast his vote on Wednesday in the provincial capital Jayapura, only to find out that the ballots had not arrived.

Victor Mambor in Jayapura, Indonesia contributed to this story.


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.