JAKARTA: The reform-minded go–vernor of teeming Jakarta, Joko Widodo, was on Tuesday set to be named Indonesia’s next president after a bitterly fought election against a controversial ex-general with deep roots in the era of strongman Suharto.
With the election commission poised to announce the result, his opponent Prabowo Subianto—who had also claimed victory in the July 9 election—accused Widodo’s team of “massive, structured and systematic fraud” and announced he was with–drawing from the process.
More than 250,000 police officers were on duty across the world’s third-biggest democracy for the announcement of the result two weeks after the tight poll.
Voters faced a stark choice between governor Widodo, from a new breed of politicians without links to the autocratic Suharto era, and former general Prabowo, a figure from the old guard with a chequered human rights record.
If Widodo’s victory is confirmed, it would cap a meteoric rise for the former furniture exporter who was born in a riverbank slum, and would be welcomed by investors who hope he can breathe new life into the economy after a recent slowdown.
With Widodo’s victory looking assured, Prabowo on Tuesday repeated allegations of massive cheating by his opponent and announced he was pulling out of the election process.
“The presidential election, organized by the [Election Commission], is not demo–cratic,” he told reporters, adding the commission was “not fair or transparent.”
Prabowo had been widely expected to contest the results at the Consitutional Court, although experts believe any challenge is unlikely to succeed since Widodo will win by millions of votes.
The result is expected at around 4 p.m. on Tuesday (9 a.m. Manila time Wednesday) when the election commission has com–pleted final checks.
Tensions have risen sharply since the July 9 election as each side accused the other of seeking to tamper with the votes during the lengthy counting process across the world’s biggest archipelago nation.
There are fears the tension could spark unrest in a country that was hit by repeated outbreaks of violence before Suharto’s downfall in 1998. However, by late afternoon there was no sign of major demonstrations.
Security was particularly tight in the capital Jakarta, with hundreds of police in riot gear stationed around the election commission head–quarters, and roads around the cen–ter of the capital closed off to traffic.
At the weekend, Prabowo’s side repeated allegations of massive fraud during the count, and de–manded the announcement of the result be delayed—a request swiftly rejected by the Election Commission.
A member of the commission, Ferry Rizkiyansyah, insisted on Tuesday that the body had acted in a “very transparent and open” fashion throughout.
If Prabowo’s team does take the fight to the Constitutional Court, it has until late August to make a ruling.
There have been concerns about the institution’s impartiality after its chief justice was jailed for life for corruption—however, analysts believe the court will be keen to prove it is clean.
Despite Prabowo’s insistence he has won, the coalition backing him is reportedly split over whether they should contest the result. Even Pre–sident Susilo Bambang Yud–hoyono hinted on Monday that the ex-general should accept if he loses, saying: “Conceding defeat is noble.”