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Megawati warns Constitutional Court to issue fair ruling on Indonesia's election dispute

Jakarta Post - April 9, 2024

Nina A. Loasana, Jakarta – Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) matriarch Megawati Soekarnoputri has warned the Constitutional Court justices to deliver fair decisions in the disputes over the results of the February presidential race.

While the rulings in the cases brought forward by PDI-P presidential candidate Ganjar Pranowo and the other losing candidate Anies Baswedan against the landslide victory of Prabowo Subianto are not due until April 22, the justices began deliberations behind closed doors on Saturday.

The petitioners claim that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo used state facilities and resources in an attempt to effect a favorable outcome for Defense Minister Prabowo, who ran with Jokowi's son Gibran Rakabuming Raka.

In an opinion piece she wrote for Kompas daily on Monday, Megawati urged the court justices to use "conscience" and "statesmanship" when making their decision and to not let "electoral practices filled with allegations of abuse of power" undermine the country's democracy.

"The justices' decision will be the most important indicator of whether the principle of people's sovereignty will continue to exist in our democracy, or whether we will only see more abuses of power in future elections," she wrote. "Letting electoral fraud persist without punishment will be the death of our democracy."

Megawati went on to ask the justices "to reflect on the controversial ruling" on the eligibility requirements for presidential and vice-presidential candidates they made last year and not to repeat that mistake.

Late last year, the court ruled in favor of adding an exception to the 40-year minimum-age requirement for presidential and vice presidential candidates, effectively enabling Gibran to run in the election.

Civil groups lambasted the ruling as politically driven and ridden with conflicts of interest given that the then-chief justice Anwar Usman was Gibran's uncle by marriage.

An ethics probe later found Anwar guilty of an ethics violation for using his position to sway the court's decision and demoted him from the chief justice position.

In her commentary for Kompas, Megawati also said there was "massive, systematic and structural election fraud", accusing Jokowi of nepotism and abusing his power by politicizing social aid during the campaign season to sway voters in favor of the eventual winner Prabowo-Gibran.

Last week, the court summoned four of Jokowi's ministers responsible for the government's social aid program to give their depositions about the aid distribution. All four ministers denied allegations that Jokowi used government aid for electoral purposes.

Megawati's opinion piece was published only a day after PDI-P secretary-general Hasto Kristiyanto said that the court should have summoned the President to the witness stand.

"Megawati was ready to testify if the court had asked her. The President should have also been ready to do the same. This will be [a valuable] political education process [for the public]," he said on Sunday as reported by Kompas.id.

Jokowi's relationship with his nominal party the PDI-P has soured since he let Gibran run as Prabowo's running mate on the ticket of the PDI-P's rival, the Gerindra Party.

Constitutional Court Justice Arief Hidayat previously said that the court had decided not to subpoena Jokowi because "it felt inappropriate to summon a sitting president, who is both the head of the state and the head of the government to election dispute hearings".

Civil groups have publicly urged the court to at least request a written statement from Jokowi before it reads out its ruling on April 22.

Last week, the court held its last hearing to hear arguments from the Ganjar and Anies camps and their witnesses, as well as the General Elections Commission (KPU) as the respondent in the case and Prabowo's camp as a third-party intervener in favor of the KPU's certification of Prabowo's victory. But the court has allowed the petitioners to submit written final arguments by April 16.

Source: https://asianews.network/megawati-warns-constitutional-court-to-issue-fair-ruling-on-indonesias-election-dispute