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INDONESIA POLL: Legal fight could hurt Prabowo even more

Publication Date : 24-07-2014


Not only has former general Prabowo Subianto lost Indonesia's presidential election, there are signs that a legal challenge of the results could cause him to lose support among key allies - including his running mate.

Members of his own Gerindra party have missed appearances in various areas, and allies have made vague statements - indications that a split could be looming in his seven-party coalition.

Yesterday, Prabowo again blamed his loss on massive fraud and said he would take his case against the Election Commission to the Constitutional Court (MK).

That reversed his earlier stand of not launching a legal challenge. But his stand could change yet again as he has until tomorrow to submit a case.

"We have grave concerns over the integrity of the electoral process in a number of provinces, and estimated that 50,000 polling stations have reported irregularities, putting an estimated 21 million votes in question," said Tantowi Yahya, of Prabowo's campaign team yesterday.

He was flanked by lawyer Mahendradatta and Prabowo's brother Hashim Djojohadikusumo, who reiterated their plans to pursue all legal channels.

But many say that such a challenge of the electoral process puts Prabowo at risk of alienating grassroots supporters too.

Running mate Hatta Rajasa has been absent from at least three coalition meetings since Sunday.

He cancelled a press conference after not showing up for Prabowo's Tuesday's address, fuelling speculation of a rift.

Hashim denied that, saying he had met Hatta on Sunday.

Prabowo's team claims that ties with other key members in Hatta's National Mandate Party, such as Amien Rais, are good.

Earlier, retired top judge Mahfud M.D. backed away from continuing a fight in court, saying he was ending his services as the Prabowo camp's national campaign chief after "failing in his duties" to ensure a win.

Golkar's deputy chairman Agung Laksono also urged the camp to accept the results.

Indonesia watcher Marcus Mietzner of Australian National University said: "Prabowo has boxed himself into a position where it's very difficult to get up from."

Prabowo has to "swallow his pride", said Jakarta-based analyst Kevin Evans, and concede or risk his dignity in the court of public opinion.

"If the MK doesn't find it in his favour, and confirms the results of everything so far, I think it starts to look a little bit silly (to continue fighting) and people will start to laugh and leave you."

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