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Ex-General Accused of Rights Abuses Wins Indonesia Election

WorldAsiaEx-General Accused of Rights Abuses Wins Indonesia Election

A feared former general won last month’s presidential election in Indonesia, official results released on Wednesday showed, confirming unofficial projections.

That candidate, Prabowo Subianto, who is now Indonesia’s defense minister, garnered 58.6 percent of the vote, according to the final tally by the General Election Commission.

The result means that Mr. Prabowo, who was placed under a visa blacklist by the United States for about two decades over human rights abuses, won the election outright, avoiding a runoff with the second-place candidate.

Although the official count is over, the process for Mr. Prabowo to be officially declared president-elect could be a protracted one. His opponents — Anies Baswedan, who had 24.9 percent of the vote, and Ganjar Pranowo, who took 16.5 percent — have said they plan to challenge the result.

They accuse the outgoing president, Joko Widodo, of improperly influencing the election and claim widespread irregularities during the Feb. 14 vote. They have not provided proof of election-day impropriety but said they had evidence to prove their claims in court.

Mr. Prabowo’s representatives reject these claims, noting that nearly every poll before the election showed him as the front-runner.

For many observers and critics, the election has tarnished Indonesia’s hard-won reputation of a vibrant democracy.

The focal points of their discontent are the actions of Mr. Joko, preceding the vote and how he used state resources to support Mr. Prabowo, whom he beat in the previous two elections. Mr. Joko exerted his influence, they say, on a court that changed a law, allowing his son, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, to run as Mr. Prabowo’s running mate. Then, they say, Mr. Joko violated norms by appearing to campaign for the duo and ordering social disbursements that helped their candidacy.

“There wasn’t an equal playing field, which is fundamental for elections,” said Rohana Hettiarachchi, the chairman of the Asian Network for Free Elections, an alliance of independent election watchdogs.

Mr. Joko has denied allegations of wrongdoing, saying presidents are allowed to campaign and choose a side as long as they do not use state facilities. When he made those remarks, Mr. Prabowo stood by his side.

Mr. Prabowo’s record has long unsettled many in the country. He was dismissed from the military after he was found responsible for the kidnapping of student activists; he has questioned the need for democracy; and he is known for a violent temper and erratic behavior. During the campaign, Mr. Prabowo insisted that he was committed to democracy.

Legal experts say it is unlikely that Mr. Ganjar and Mr. Anies will have any success in court if they go through with their plan to seek legal intervention. The Constitutional Court, which hears such matters, has never ruled in favor of plaintiffs challenging election results. For instance, it rejected Mr. Prabowo’s claims in 2019, when he lost the election to Mr. Joko.

Barring any legal setbacks, Mr. Prabowo is expected to be formally declared the president-elect in the coming weeks. He will take office after Mr. Joko’s term ends in October.

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