/ 28 July 2009

Indonesia’s disgruntled Megawati files election lawsuit

Indonesian opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri filed a lawsuit on Tuesday challenging Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s presidential election victory, alleging 28-million votes had been miscounted.

The complaint filed to the Constitutional Court came a day after another losing candidate, Vice-President Jusuf Kalla, also filed a lawsuit demanding the result of the poll be annulled, citing inaccurate voter lists.

Yudhoyono won 60,8% of the votes in the July 8 election, according to the count by the General Election Commission (KPU). Kalla won 12,41% and Megawati, a former president, got 26,79%.

Those results were in line with many opinion polls and election quick count results, but both Megawati and Kalla had said they would challenge the results. Analysts do not expect the challenges to affect the election outcome.

Complaints by Megawati and Kalla of voter-list irregularities dogged the final hours before the actual election and, in the end, authorities allowed those whose names did not appear on the electoral rolls to use their identity cards to vote.

”We call for a second round so that at least Mr SBY [Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono] has to fight to get people’s trust in the presidential election,” said Arteria Dahlan, a lawyer from Megawati’s legal team.

Dahlan said the election commission had failed to act on complaints over the electoral lists before the vote. He said Megawati’s legal team had presented to the Constitutional Court evidence indicating voting problems in 25 provinces and showing 28-million votes had been miscounted and given to Yudhoyono.

The election commission has said in its official count that 121,5-million people voted in the poll. A string of world leaders have congratulated Yudhoyono on his election victory including United States President Barack Obama, who called the vote free and fair.

Yudhoyono won more than 50% of the vote to avoid a second round with his nearest rival Megawati, who had previously lost to the president in a run-off in 2004.

A presidential legal adviser, Denny Indrayana, dismissed Megawati’s allegations and said, based on past experience, they would be impossible to prove in order for the Constitutional Court to consider a run-off vote.

Indrayana also said the official result of the election was in line with quick counts conducted soon after the vote and that no significant complaints were made right after election day.

”One has 60% of votes and the other didn’t even get half of that, so for her [Megawati] to present evidence that she deserves a second round and that the president was not the winner is almost impossible to prove,” he added.

Zainal Arifin Mochtar, a constitutional law expert at Gajah Mada University, said the presidential election Bill did not include a clause that would allow a poll to be repeated and so would need to be reframed to consider running the election again.

There could, however, be a second round if the court proved the election commission mishandled the vote to the extent that it had affected the result. — Reuters