Former General Challenges Widodo's Victory in Indonesia

23 July, 2014

The unsuccessful candidate in the Indonesian presidential election has decided to challenge -- or officially dispute -- the result. Former Army General Prabowo Subianto will ask the country's Constitutional Court to overturn the vote count.

His spokesman announced his decision on Wednesday. The announcement came a day after the country's election commission named former Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo the winner of the July 9th vote.

Mr. Subianto said he believes many people were paid to mark their ballots for Mr. Widodo. The former army general accuses the election commission of failing to investigate accusations of dishonesty.

Former General Challenges Widodo's Victory in Indonesia
Indonesia President-elect Joko Widodo, left, and his running mate Jusuf Kalla, center.

The court is expected to take about a month to consider the case. Most political observers believe General Subianto will not succeed.

Edward Aspinall is an expert in Indonesian politics at the Australian National University. He told VOA it would be difficult for the court to overturn a six-point difference in the vote count.

"I think the chances are pretty much close to zero. And there would be no precedent in recent Indonesian electoral history of a Constitutional Court overturning a result to that extent. The (fraud) allegations also, from what we can see, don't seem to be particularly strong."

No violence has been reported following the announcement of the election results. However, thousands of police and military forces have been deployed in case of unrest.

Mr. Aspinall says many groups that support Prabowo Subianto have been willing to use violence in the past. But he does not believe they will do so now.

"There is a coalition of organizations or people with the background and history of violence on that particular side, so you can never rule it out entirely. But my sense is that the further we go with the process, the chances of that sort of thing begin to diminish, partly because the coalition that coalesced around Prabowo during the election campaign is really starting to disintegrate."

Joko Widodo spoke earlier this week, before the official results were released. The results showed that he won 53 percent of the vote. He said that now is the time for the country to come together after a difficult campaign.

He said he is certain that the struggle to achieve an Indonesia that is sovereign, independent and true to its character can only be achieved if we work together. And, he said, now is the time to work together.

World leaders have already begun congratulating Joko Widodo on his victory. A statement by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States looks forward to working with him.

Many Indonesians believe Mr. Widodo will reform the country's government. He is one of the few candidates not linked to Suharto, the country's longtime dictator. Suharto was ousted in 1998. He died in 2008.

Prabowo Subianto was once married to a daughter of Suharto. The former presidential candidate took strong nationalist positions during the campaign. Many people were worried that he would move the country away from rights of personal freedom. He has been accused of rights abuses. They include permitting the arrest of democracy activists during his time as an army general.

I'm Christopher Cruise.

This story was written in Special English by Christopher Cruise from a VOA News report by William Gallo in Washington. It was edited by Jeri Watson.