Sat, Apr 13, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Indonesia probes alleged vote fraud

EARLY VOTING?Videos surfaced online showing people in Malaysia unpacking several bags of marked ballots and two women marking ballots by punching holes in them

AFP, JAKARTA

Indonesia is probing vote-rigging claims after the discovery of thousands of stray election ballots in neighboring Malaysia, officials said late on Thursday, as the opposition threatens to challenge next week’s poll results over separate voter list irregularities.

The Indonesia General Elections Commission (KPU) has sent a team to Malaysia to investigate as many as 20,000 ballots, including many marked in favor of Indonesian President Joko Widodo, that were found in two locations near the capital, Kuala Lumpur.

“This concerns a very sensitive issue, and as it happened in another country, we’re doing a very careful investigation,” KPU Chairman Arief Budiman told a news conference.

Recent polls have suggested that 57-year-old Widodo has a double-digit lead over challenger Prabowo Subianto, a former general, setting up a repeat of the pair’s contest in 2014, which Widodo narrowly won.

Indonesia’s opposition has already warned of court challenges and street protests over irregularities, including errors in dates of birth and duplicate identity card numbers, for about 17.5 million registered voters — nearly 10 percent of the electorate.

On Wednesday next week, more than 190 million Indonesians are expected to cast their ballots in one of the world’s biggest one-day elections, with about 2 million living overseas also registered to vote, including in Malaysia.

The Indonesian Elections Supervisory Agency confirmed that stray ballots marked in Widodo’s favor were found in Malaysia after videos surfaced online that showed people raiding an empty store in Selangor state and unpacking several bags containing marked ballots.

Another video, apparently from another location in Malaysia, showed two women punching holes in ballots, which is how a vote is marked in Indonesia’s elections.

However, the agency said the ballots’ authenticity had yet to be confirmed.

“Were those ballots really printed by the KPU? Who did this?” agency official Mochammad Afifuddin said in a joint statement with the commission.

“We will clarify this and investigate,” he added.

Selangor Police Chief Noor Azam Jamaludin said that Malaysian authorities were also probing the case.

There are reportedly 1 million registered Indonesian voters living in Malaysia who are expected to cast an early ballot at more than 200 ballot stations tomorrow.

Subianto’s camp has demanded the recall of Indonesian Ambassador to Malaysia Rusdi Kirana for failing to prevent ballots from going astray.

“It’s embarrassing,” Subianto spokesman Irawan Ronodipuro said. “This breaches the code of ethics, and violates the ambassador’s primary role and function. It has defamed the country.”

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