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INDONESIA POLLS: Indonesia will manage poll tensions without foreign help

Publication Date : 18-07-2014


Indonesia will keep election tensions in check on its own, without foreign intervention, president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said, just days before the result of the presidential election is formally announced next Tuesday.

His comments yesterday, at the start of a cabinet meeting, came as the National Police chief warned rival camps not to turn up that day with large groups of supporters.

Dr Yudhoyono told his ministers that United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon raised the subject of the election during their telephone conversation on Palestine on Wednesday night.

"Ban Ki Moon knew there was a dispute and it would be resolved on July 22," recalled the president, whose term ends on Oct 20.
"I said: God willing, Indonesia will manage it well."

Drawing a comparison with the ongoing presidential election dispute in Afghanistan, which needed US Secretary of State John Kerry to intercede, he told ministers: "It is our resolve to break any impasse on our own."

His remarks precluding outside intervention, a sensitive subject, came as Prabowo Subianto's camp charged that former US president Bill Clinton's visit to Indonesia this weekend is aimed at shoring up support for his rival Joko Widodo.

Also yesterday, National Police chief Sutarman urged both presidential rivals to rein in their supporters and not take crowds to the Election Commission (KPU) next Tuesday.

Meanwhile armed forces commander Moeldoko has reminded soldiers, who will be equipped with rubber bullets, that their main task is to protect the people.

With both candidates declaring victory after the polls closed on July 9, there has been growing concern that the election result might spark violence from the losing camp.

While many observers expect Joko to be declared the winner, several point to a second scenario, where Prabowo is declared the winner.

As the KPU will tally up counts from provincial election bodies only, this could see tallies amended as they move up the chain.

Achmad Sukarsono of The Habibie Centre, a think-tank, noted that these documents pass through the hands of poorly paid officials, some of whom are vulnerable to corruption.

Even if there is no unrest next week, the battle is set to shift to the Constitutional Court.

The losing side has three days to file a legal challenge. The hearing will start around Aug 4 and the court has to rule within 14 working days.

In a bid to calm tensions, 49 public figures and civil society leaders got together yesterday to urge both camps to meet and agree to accept the KPU result.

"We believe people, including both candidates and their supporters, will preserve the peace and reject violent acts," they said.

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