No interference in Indonesian elections, lawyers for Prabowo tell court

By Stanley Widianto and Ananda Teresia

JAKARTA (Reuters) -The legal team of Indonesian president-elect Prabowo Subianto told the Constitutional Court on Thursday that the state had not interfered in last month’s election, and a case brought by his opponents to disqualify him should be thrown out.

Rival candidates Ganjar Pranowo and Anies Baswedan on Wednesday challenged Prabowo’s resounding victory, asking the court to order a new vote, and to disqualify both Prabowo and his vice presidential running-mate Gibran Rakabuming Raka, son of outgoing President Joko Widodo.

Otto Hasibuan, one of the lawyers on Prabowo’s legal team, told the court there had been no violations or interference by the president or state institutions to sway the outcome of the Feb. 14 election.

“These calls for re-election, disqualification, potentially trigger other problems that will lead to constitutional crisis,” Otto told the court.

Jokowi, as the president is popularly known, has been accused of favoring his erstwhile rival Prabowo and son Gibran, who were announced winners of the election by the national poll body last week.

Gibran was able to team up with Prabowo after the Constitutional Court issued a last minute ruling changing eligibility criteria. At the time, the court was led by Jokowi’s brother-in-law Anwar Usman.

Anwar has been barred from presiding over election disputes since an ethics panel found him guilty of violations.

More than 300 academics and activists on Thursday submitted a legal opinion to the court arguing that Gibran’s candidacy for vice president was problematic. Prabowo’s lawyers argued Gibran’s candidacy was valid and involved no nepotism.

Describing allegations of wrongdoing made by the losing candidates as “administrative complaints”, Prabowo’s legal team said such matters should be handled by the country’s election watchdog rather than the court.

Challenges to election outcomes are not unusual in Indonesia and the court is expected to make a decision on April 22. The winner of the presidential election is to be inaugurated in October.

(Additional reporting by Gayatri Suroyo and Stefanno Sulaiman; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor, Miral Fahmy, Peter Graff)


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