Indonesia’s defeated presidential challenger Prabowo Subianto continued to insist he was the rightful winner of Wednesday’s bitterly fought elections yesterday, two days after early poll counts showed incumbent Joko “Jokowi” Widodo had been re-elected with a double-digit margin.
Mr Prabowo, who was backed by hardline Islamist groups, appeared at a mass gathering outside his campaign office in South Jakarta after Friday prayers to again claim the presidency and attack the credibility of pollsters who near universally found Jokowi had won.
While official results will not be released until late next month, all credible quick count surveys — which compile samples of open counting at the polling stations and are historically accurate to within 1 per cent — show Jokowi won by a margin of about 10 per cent.
Speaking on a street stage to several thousand supporters, the 67-year-old Suharto-era general said: “This is the victory for all the people. The Indonesian people have awoken … they no longer want to be lied to.
“Do you believe the pollsters?”
“No,” they shouted.
“Hey liars, people don’t believe you. We will not accept any effort to deny what is rightfully ours but we will always do things according to the constitution,” he said.
Earlier he attended a local mosque where supporters chanted “Prabowo president” as he left.
Jokowi has said he will not formally claim victory until the Election Commission’s official results next month, though on Thursday he acknowledged quick counts showed he had secured 54.45 per cent of the vote and that he had received numerous congratulatory calls from world leaders.
More than 160 million Indonesians are estimated to have voted this week in the world’s biggest one-day election exercise, casting ballots for the next president as well as 20,000 seats in the national, provincial, municipal and regency level legislatures.
But Mr Prabowo has repeatedly declared victory, citing his own team’s quick count survey that he claims shows he won 62 per cent of the vote. He told supporters on Thursday night: “Sandiaga Uno and I are declaring victory as the president and vice-president.’’
Mr Sandiaga, his 49-year-old running mate, was absent yesterday as he was Wednesday night when Mr Prabowo declared himself the election winner. Party officials explained his absence first on “non-stop hiccups”, then yesterday on suspected dengue fever.
As in 2014 when Mr Prabowo was first defeated by Jokowi, he has alleged widespread electoral “irregularities” and flagged a likely court challenge. He has also urged supporters to “guard the ballot boxes” to ensure against vote tampering as the commission’s official manual count continues.
Hours ahead of yesterday’s gathering, former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono — whose Democrat party aligned with Mr Prabowo for the campaign — warned against mass protests and urged party officials not to involve themselves in activities “that contravene the constitution and laws”.
It is the second time in a fortnight SBY has criticised his erstwhile ally, after issuing a statement expressing concern that Mr Prabowo’s rallies had taken on an increasingly sectarian hue.
Mr Prabowo’s supporters had hoped to stage yesterday’s event at the same central Jakarta monument that became the focal point for the 2016 mass protests against former Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, who was later jailed for blasphemy.
His backers include the Islamic Defenders’ Front and 212 Movement, two groups central to that campaign. But they were forced to shift the gathering after police denied them a permit and pointedly warned that mass demonstrations would “not be tolerated”.
“If there are any illegal or unconstitutional actions that threaten public stability and security, authorities will take firm action,” national police chief Tito Karnavian said late on Thursday. “I urge everyone against mass demonstrations, whether it’s to celebrate or to express dissatisfaction” at the results.