Thousands of soldiers yesterday fanned out across Jakarta after the surprise early announcement of official results in Indonesia’s election showed Joko Widodo re-elected leader of the world’s third-biggest democracy.
The Indonesian General Elections Commission had been due to give the final tally of the divisive poll today, but the results were revealed early yesterday with little advance notice amid fears of unrest.
Challenger Prabowo Subianto had warned of possible mass uprisings in response to his claims of widespread cheating.
Tensions have spiked since police last week said that they arrested dozens of terror suspects linked to the Islamic State group, including some who planned to cause chaos by detonating bombs at any post-election protests.
There was a heavy security presence in Jakarta yesterday, including in front of the commission office, which was barricaded with razor wire and protected by scores of heavily armed troops.
Subianto, a 67-year-old retired general, has targeted the commission by accusing it of allowing a string of election breaches.
The former military man has kept up a steady string of rhetoric since unofficial results for the April 17 poll put Widodo ahead by a wide margin.
Widodo, who had held off declaring victory after last month’s polls, yesterday confirmed the win.
“After we’re sworn in ... we will be president and vice president,” Widodo told reporters in Jakarta with running mate Ma’ruf Amin, a Muslim cleric, at his side.
Subianto rejected the results, but called for supporters to remain calm and said that his camp would pursue “legal avenues.”
Earlier yesterday, Subianto’s legal director was quoted by Indonesian media as saying that a formal appeal would be filed at the Indonesian Constitutional Court.
Subianto at the same court unsuccessfully challenged Widodo’s 2014 victory over him.
Analysts and election officials have discounted Subianto’s claims that the result was affected by voter fraud and widespread cheating.
“The scale of abuses and errors in the conduct of the election are clearly very minor overall,” Jakarta-based political analyst Kevin O’Rourke said before the official results were announced. “[Subianto] and his camp are harping on minor deficiencies and very micro problems, clearly in an attempt to sway public opinion and delegitimize Widodo.”
It was unclear if huge crowds would flood the streets to support Subianto, but there was little sign of it.
“There will be protests from disappointed [Subianto] supporters, but I don’t think it’ll be significant,” Indonesian Sciences Institute political analyst Syamsuddin Haris said. “Authorities have been anticipating this.”
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