Indonesia Election Result Set for Court Challenge After Riots
(Bloomberg) -- Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto is set to lodge a legal challenge against his loss to incumbent Joko Widodo after the worst political violence to rock Jakarta in two decades left seven protesters dead and hundreds injured.
Prabowo, as Subianto is commonly known, appealed to his supporters on Wednesday night to halt protests as he was seeking legal remedy against the official result confirming Widodo’s win in the April 17 election. The former general was set to file an appeal with the Constitutional Court on Thursday, according to his spokesman Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak. Prabowo unsuccessfully challenged his loss to Widodo in 2014.
Calm returned to streets of Indonesia’s capital on Thursday after protesters clashed with police for two days in a row, in the worst violence to grip the city since the downfall of the dictator Suharto in 1998. At least seven rioters were killed during the violence, which was unleashed by about 300 “perpetrators,” National Police spokesman Mohammad Iqbal told reporters on Thursday.
Some of the rioters detained by the police were supporters of Islamic State and were planning a jihadist attack, Iqbal said. The suspects belonged to Gerakan Reformis Islam, or Islam Reformist Group, which pledges allegiance to IS, he said.
The protest in front of the nation’s election supervisory agency was initially peaceful on Wednesday, but it erupted into violence after nightfall with Prabowo supporters shooting firecrackers and hurling rocks at police. A total of 257 people have been arrested and knives, guns and Molotov cocktails recovered from the detainees, Argo Yuwono, a spokesman for Jakarta police, told reporters on Wednesday.
While no protests are scheduled for Thursday, about 58,000 security personnel were guarding the city, including the main election offices, presidential palace and the parliament building, National Police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said.
The stocks and currency markets traded normally even though several private companies allowed employees to work from home for a second day and some schools and colleges remained closed. While the country’s benchmark stock index jumped 1.6%, the most in three months, rupiah snapped a four-day losing streak.
The police said many of the so-called provocateurs involved in the violence had come to Jakarta from other provinces. There were rallies elsewhere in Indonesia, including at the election supervisory board’s office in Medan, in North Sumatra, according to Tempo.
Widodo, known as Jokowi, said the situation was under control with the military and police committed to maintaining stability and security. While calling for peace and unity for a second day, the president said his government will not tolerate any efforts to disrupt the country’s security and democracy. Indonesia’s election commission on Tuesday announced Jokowi had secured 55.5% of the national vote.
The violence prompted the government to order curbs on social media usage with certain features of Facebook, Instagram and messaging systems being disabled to prevent downloading of pictures and videos, according to Communications Minister Rudiantara.
The political unrest may undermine Jokowi’s efforts to bolster growth and tackle a high current account deficit that’s weighed on the Southeast Asian nation’s currency, stocks and bonds. The president must now deliver on a reform agenda that includes plans for record spending on new infrastructure over the next five years. He’ll also need to attract foreign investment and navigate a worsening global trade environment, which is weighing on growth.
Jokowi, 57, is expected to be sworn in for his second five-year tenure on Oct. 20.
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