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INDONESIA POLLS: President Yudhoyono urges poll comission to ensure transparency

Publication Date : 12-07-2014


Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has urged the Election Commission (KPU), which is overseeing the counting of votes from Wednesday's presidential election, to ensure transparency.

He said the two presidential candidates and their teams should be invited to monitor the counting so as to calm disquiet over the possibility of vote-tampering during the six-stage process, from village to national levels.

"This is important so that they can see the daily process. When the official results are announced on July 22, they know the counting was done carefully," he said at the start of a cabinet meeting, with reporters present.

The counting of more than 140 million votes collected has come under increased scrutiny since the candidates, Joko Widodo and Prabowo Subianto, told their supporters to be vigilant against vote manipulation.

Both men claimed victory on Wednesday based on quick counts carried out by different polling agencies.

The Prabowo camp disputed the quick count results of several established pollsters which named Joko as the winner by a margin of up to six percentage points.

In an interview with BBC aired last night, Prabowo was adamant he had won the election, claiming that real counts from 60 per cent of the votes his team monitored put him as the winner. "I'm confident I've got the mandate from the people," he said.

Attacking his rival, he called Joko the "product of a PR campaign" who "claims to be humble but that's just an act".

The dispute over who won the election prompted the KPU to urge both sides to refrain from celebrating until the official results are out.

Yesterday, the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission asked all radio and TV broadcasters to stop transmitting quick counts, real counts, claims of victory and well-wishes until July 22, saying all this could potentially give rise to a situation that was not conducive to stability.

"I don't think it is easy to steal an election but this six-stage tabulation process makes it open to manipulation," said Jakarta-based political analyst Paul Rowland.

"It is possible to have numbers switched at the aggregation level," he added.

The heightened anxiety has seen the offices of pollsters guarded by police after one agency which reported a Prabowo win had a Molotov cocktail lobbed into its premises. It did not explode.

Said Titi Anggraini, executive director of election watchdog Perludem: "We are concerned about intimidations... and alleged vote-buying, and we hope the authorities can act firmly to stop any form of manipulation."

Citing an example of intimidation, an analyst working for a polling agency that has received threats recounted that he saw special forces soldiers walking into a campaign office in West Java and then demanding the names of field coordinators.

Some Indonesians have urged Dr Yudhoyono, whose Democrat Party is backing Prabowo's coalition, to prevent vote-rigging.

"I have no authority. The authority lies in the Constitution and electoral law, executed through the Election Commission," he said. "But morally, I am responsible for ensuring the whole process runs safely and democratically."

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