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A losing candidate in Indonesia's presidential election demands a revote, alleging fraud

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — The camp of Indonesia’s losing presidential candidate filed a complaint with the Constitutional Court on Saturday alleging widespread fraud at the polls and demanded a revote.

The legal team of Ganjar Pranowo, who was backed by the governing Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, said it wants the elected president, Prabowo Subianto, and his vice president, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, disqualified.

“We demand the Constitutional Court to order the General Election Commission to administer a revote,” said Todung Mulya Lubis, a lawyer representing Pranowo and his running mate Mohammad Mahfud. He said that nepotism and abuse of power were at the core of the complaint.

He said that the candidacy of Raka, President Joko Widodo’s son, should not have been allowed and alleged that some regional leaders and village heads had been intimidated into voting for him. He also alleged that state funds were used to buy votes.

“We are at a very decisive moment in our lives as a nation and state,” Lubis said. “Democracy is important, the rule of law is important, the constitution is important, and we don’t want it to be trampled on, we don’t want it to be violated.”

Pranowo and Mahfud received 16.5% of votes, the lowest among three contenders in the Feb. 14 polls, according to final results. Subianto, the incumbent defense minister who was accused of human rights abuses under a past dictatorship, won with 58.6%.

The runner-up, former Jakarta Gov. Anies Baswedan, who received 24.9%, also had alleged widespread irregularities and fraud at the polls. His camp filed a legal challenge on Thursday.

Both losing candidates had assaulted Raka's participation in the election. The Constitutional Court had made an exception to the minimum age requirement of 40 for candidates. Raka is 37.

Anwar Usman, who was the court’s chief justice when the exception was made, is Widodo’s brother in law. An ethics panel later forced Usman to resign for failing to recuse himself and for making last-minute changes to the candidacy requirements, but allowed him to remain on the court as long as he does not participate in election-related cases.

Lubis said that his team would bring about 30 witnesses to testify despite difficulties in getting them to appear in court because he said that some of them were intimidated by authorities. He acknowledged that successfully challenging an election result with such a wide margin of victory would be difficult.

“This is not a matter of winning or losing," he said. “We are willing to lose if it is fair, we don’t want to lose if it is unfair.”

Constitutional Court spokesperson Fajar Laksono Suroso said both complaints would be heard by April 22 and a verdict would come on May 7. The ruling cannot be appealed. It will be decided by eight justices instead of the full nine-member court because Usman is required to recuse himself.

Indonesia’s ruling party scored a historic win in the February legislative election, winning the most votes for the third time in a row.

The party, chaired by Megawati Soekarnoputri, won 16.7% of the vote and is predicted to have 110 seats in the 580-member national parliament. Golkar Party, led by current Coordinating Minister for Economy Airlangga Hartarto, came in second with 102 seats, followed by Subianto’s Gerindra Party with 86 seats. The rest went to five other parties.

Widodo has faced criticism for throwing his support behind Subianto. The outgoing president distanced himself from his own party, PDIP, and made a series of moves seen as boosting Subianto’s campaign. Indonesian presidents are expected to remain neutral in elections to replace them.

Hefty social aid from the government was disbursed in the middle of the campaign — far more than the amounts spent during the COVID-19 pandemic. Widodo distributed funds in person in a number of provinces, in a move that drew particular scrutiny.