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Yudhoyono gives a hint to Prabowo

AWAITING POLLS RESULT: (From left) Mr Prabowo, Dr Yudhoyono, Mr Joko and Mr Prabowo's running mate, Hatta Rajasa, praying at the presidential palace. PHOTO: AFP


    Jul 22, 2014

    Yudhoyono gives a hint to Prabowo


    INDONESIA'S outgoing leader yesterday came within a whisker of telling retired general Prabowo Subianto to admit defeat so that the country's most bitterly fought leadership contest could be resolved.

    Mr Prabowo has almost certainly lost the July 9 election, but he cried foul on Sunday, and demanded that the Elections Commission (KPU) investigate allegations of vote cheating before he would accept the result. The commission is due to announce the result today.

    "Admitting defeat is noble," President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told reporters.

    Private tallies of the 130 million votes show that Jakarta Governor Joko "Jokowi" Widodo won by about five percentage points over Mr Prabowo, who has spent the last 10 years preparing for his presidential bid.

    Mr Prabowo's recalcitrance has led to fears that his supporters may turn violent, and some have threatened to rally outside the Elections Commission (KPU) office in central Jakarta ahead of the official result, which under law must be declared by today.

    The national police and military have deployed nearly 300,000 personnel across the vast archipelago of 240 million people.

    Security has also been beefed up around the KPU office, but there has been no violence so far.

    Candidates can lodge complaints with the Constitutional Court; that was done by the losers in the previous two presidential elections. The court has to return a verdict on any challenge within two weeks. The verdict cannot be appealed against.

    "If there is someone who does not accept the official result, I would advise them to peacefully go the constitutional route," said Dr Yudhoyono, who hosted both candidates for dinner at the presidential palace on Sunday night.

    KPU officials said reports of irregularities have been investigated as recommended by the election watchdog. They said the number of disputed votes numbered in the thousands.

    Analysts reckon that a reversal of up to seven million votes would be needed to hand victory to Mr Prabowo.