JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia’s top court on Thursday rejected an appeal by the losing candidate in last month’s presidential election over alleged voting irregularities, removing any uncertainty around the victory of Jakarta Gov. Joko Widodo.
Prabowo Subianto, a former general with links to the regime of ex-dictator Suharto, had alleged massive fraud in the July 9 polls and filed a complaint in the Constitutional Court. He presented evidence and witness testimony for his claim, but all nine judges at the court ruled it was groundless.
“The ruling is final and binding, but does not necessarily reflect truth or justice,” Tantowi Yahya, a spokesman for a coalition of political parties supporting Subianto, told a news conference.
The verdict means that Widodo, a former furniture exporter who stands out among Indonesia’s political elite for his humble upbringing and lifestyle, can press ahead with preparing to take over the government of the world’s fourth most populous nation, a regional economic powerhouse.
Widodo, widely known by the nickname Jokowi, will be sworn in on Oct. 20.
“We very much appreciate the Constitutional Court which has done its duties openly, transparency and professionally,” he told a news conference.
The court’s decision had been widely expected given the flimsy evidence presented at the court by the Subianto camp and the number of election votes needed to be overturned to ensure victory. The verdict cannot be appealed.
The election commission declared Widodo the winner with 53 percent of the votes – a margin of more than 8 million. Local and international monitors have said there was no sign of major irregularities, and praised the vote as another milestone in the country’s strengthening democracy.
Subianto’s poll showing was stronger than many had predicted at the beginning of the campaign, but his attempt to have the results overturned garnered little public support. It has been widely seen as a face-saving measure by the general, who spent millions of his personal fortune in trying to win the presidency.
Around 2,000 of his supporters rallied in Jakarta ahead of the verdict and tried to get close to the court, which is near the presidential palace. Police fired tear gas and water cannons as a smaller number of demonstrators attempted to tear down barbed wire barricades blocking their way. There were no reports of serious injuries and all had dispersed by the time the verdict was announced.
Subianto leads a coalition of political parties that control a majority of seats in Parliament, and he has vowed to make life difficult for Widodo. But Thursday’s court ruling could cause that coalition to crumble as its members try to join Widodo in government.