Indonesian president urges calm as official election results tallied
Reuters in Jakarta
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono urged the two candidates in this week's disputed presidential election to keep their supporters in check during what will likely be an agonising two-week wait for an official result.
Police were on alert yesterday across the sprawling archipelago after both candidates claimed victory in the tightest race in the country's history. The Election Commission is due to announce the official result of Wednesday's vote on July 22.
Yudhoyono met the candidates, Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo and former special forces general Prabowo Subianto, separately at his home outside Jakarta late on Wednesday, telling both to ensure their supporters kept the peace.
The president "asks both candidates' sides to show restraint, not to mobilise masses onto the streets to celebrate victory until the verdict of the Election Commission", Yudhoyono tweeted.
There were no reports of any major violence. Around 250,000 police officers stood on standby, authorities said.
Prabowo has criticised his rival for declaring victory based on quick counts of actual votes by private groups, a method which has proved accurate in past elections. He countered with his own victory declaration based on other, unnamed, quick counts.
Indonesia, Southeast Asia's biggest economy, was swept by violence that killed hundreds when strongman ruler Suharto was ousted in 1998 after 31 years in power. It has since made a slow transition to full democracy, with this only its third direct presidential election.