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INDONESIA POLLS: Calls mount for Prabowo to concede defeat

Publication Date : 14-07-2014

 

Many have criticised the Gerindra Party-led coalition’s presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto’s decision to press ahead with his claim that he won the July 9 presidential election despite quick count results from credible pollsters to the contrary.

In an open letter to Prabowo and his running mate Hatta Rajasa, founding member of the National Mandate Party (PAN) Abdillah Toha, appealed to the two politicians to face the fact that they had lost the election.

“My suggestion is that the two should have a reality check. I know that deep in their hearts, they know they have lost. They should be just resigned to the results, as gentlemen and statesmen. Eight pollsters cannot be wrong,” Abdillah said in his open letter published on kompasiana.com over the weekend.

Abdillah also lamented the fact that PAN, the party he helped found, had become a tool for power-hungry politicians.

“It is unfortunate that PAN, as it has progressed, has turned into a power-oriented party. It is not wrong for a party to chase power as long as it is done fairly and ethically,” Abdillah said.

Abdillah was particularly miffed with a statement from the head of Prabowo’s national campaign team, former Constitutional Court chief justice Mahfud MD, who said that he would take Prabowo’s claims of victory to the Constitutional Court.

“It seems that you will not accept the KPU’s (General Elections Commission) result if it favors your rival. It worries us — what kind of government would Prabowo form should he win the election,” Toha said.

Established in 1998 by key reform figures — including former chairman of the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) Amien Rais, who is also part of Prabowo’s camp — PAN played an important role in fighting for the reform movement that resulted in the downfall of former president Soeharto, Prabowo’s former father in law, in May 1998.

Early in its establishment, PAN was known to be an open party that promoted pluralism, although it was originally close to the Muhammadiyah, the country’s second-largest Islamic organisation.

Founding member senior writer and poet Goenawan Muhamad, left the party on the eve of its endorsement of Prabowo.

Over the weekend, many have also expressed anger after learning that Prabowo had openly attacked Jokowi during his interviews with international media outlets.

In an interview with the BBC, Prabowo openly denounced Jokowi, saying: “I think my rival is a product of a PR campaign (…) a tool of the oligarchs (…) He’s not a man of the people. He claims to be humble, but that’s just an act.”

In the interview, Prabowo also said he would not concede a defeat in spite of results from the quick counts.

“All of the real counts show I’m leading. So I’m very confident that I have the mandate of the Indonesian people,” he said.

The former TNI general also blasted some of pollsters who said Jokowi had won.

“Those institutions (...) they are all very partisan, they openly supported Jokowi over the last year. They are actually part of the Jokowi campaign, so they are not completely objective. I think they are part of this grand design to manipulate perception,” he said.

Writer and political blogger Jenny Jusuf said she was astounded by the tone of the interview.

“I watched your interview with an international TV station. (…) I was astonished. Are you that angry?” Jenny wrote in her open letter.

Jenny said that she now feared the prospect of Prabowo seizing power in spite of his defeat.

“I don’t want to have a leader who is controlled by ambition and anger because I don’t want to live in fear. We were colonised for more than three centuries. And we lived in fear for more than 30 years. We suffered enough already,” she said.

With tensions now running high, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has called on both camps to exercise restraint.

For similar reasons, the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) has banned the coverage by all television stations of quick count results.

The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), a member of the Gerindra-led coalition, recently broadcast its so-called “real count”, which said the Prabowo-Hatta ticket lead with 52.3 percent to the Jokowi-Kalla ticket’s 47.7 percent.

 

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