Judges in Indonesia have rejected opposition leader Prabowo Subianto’s challenge to the result of April’s presidential election that saw incumbent President Joko Widodo – popularly known as Jokowi – win a second term.
Prabowo’s legal team had called on the Constitutional Court to have the result of the April 17 election annulled, citing alleged voter fraud and abuse of power.
“We reject the plaintiff’s petition in its entirety,” head judge Anwar Usman said after a nine-hour session on Thursday. He said there was no evidence to support claims of cheating, adding that the nine-judge panel’s verdict was unanimous.
The court dismissed claims that Jokowi had misused state funds and the state apparatus to drum up support, as well as that press freedom had been restricted during the campaign and that there had been voter intimidation.
Prabowo’s legal team had also called on the court to disqualify Widodo’s ticket on the grounds that his running mate, Ma’ruf Amin, failed to resign from an advisory position on the board of a state-controlled bank as required by election law. The court also dismissed this argument.
The verdict is final and no appeal can be lodged.
The General Election Commission (KPU) announced on May 21 that Jokowi had won a second term as president with 55.5 percent of the votes in the April 17 vote. Prabowo, a retired general, got 44.5 percent.
Following the announcement, Prabowo repeated claims of widespread cheating in Jokowi’s favour, and thousands of his supporters took to the streets of the capital, Jakarta, to protest against the final results.
In some of the worst rioting in Jakarta in years, at least nine people were killed and 900 wounded in two nights of violence, with police firing tear gas and rubber bullets and protesters charging them with rocks, sticks and firecrackers.
Amnesty International Indonesia said police used excessive force and accused officers of torturing several people while trying to contain the riots.
Speaking to reporters after the court decision and just before he was due to fly to Japan for a G20 summit, Jokowi urged “all Indonesians to reunite to advance the country”.
Earlier, thousands of Prabowo’s supporters held peaceful protests near the court. Most appeared to have dispersed after dark.
For his part, Prabowo, flanked by his running mate Sandiaga Uno at his residence in Jakarta, said he would “honour the ruling of the Constitutional Court” but said it was “very disappointing”. He urged his supporters to remain calm.
Tens of thousands of security personnel were deployed in Jakarta for the verdict, while police blocked roads near the court.
Additional reporting by Febriana Firdaus