Constitutional battle looms as both poll rivals claim victory in Indonesia

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 July, 2014, 4:52am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 July, 2014, 5:39am

Both candidates claimed victory in Indonesia's presidential election yesterday, suggesting there could be a drawn-out constitutional battle to decide who will next lead the world's third-largest democracy.

Just a few hours after voting closed, Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo said he had won, based on what were widely seen as quick counts of more than 90 per cent of the votes.

But rival candidate and ex-general Prabowo Subianto pointed to a quick count by other pollsters naming him the winner. He did not name the pollsters. Widodo, on other hand, said he was the winner from polls by six agencies, many of which are regarded as independent.

The quick counts are conducted by private agencies that collate actual vote tallies as they come out of each district. The results are not official, but quick counts by three non-partisan pollsters - CSIS, Kompas and Saifulmujani - showed a Widodo win. The predictions of these pollsters were accurate in the April parliamentary election.

The Election Commission will take about two weeks to officially declare the results and the new president is not due to take office until October 1.

Watch: Indonesia's Widodo declares victory in presidential race

This is "not a victory for the party, not a victory for the campaign team, but this is a victory for the people of Indonesia", Widodo told supporters from a historical site in Jakarta where the nation's independence was declared. Hundreds of his supporters later celebrated at a famous traffic circle in the capital, waving flags and setting off fireworks.

But Prabowo - a general in the Suharto regime and the late dictator's former son-in-law - said he had different quick-count data showing he had won. "Thank God, all the data from the quick counts shows that we, Prabowo-Hatta, gained the people's trust," Prabowo said, referring to his running mate, Hatta Rajasa.

Outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono urged both camps to "restrain themselves" and not allow their supporters to publicly declare victory until the Election Commission had decided the winner. He was prevented by the constitution from seeking re-election.

There were no reports of any major violence. About 250,000 police officers were on standby across Indonesia.

Additional reporting by Associated Press