After Indonesia’s hotly contested presidential election ended with both sides declaring victory, front-running candidate Joko “Jokowi” Widodo called on his supporters to refrain from celebrating out of fear that it could incite violence by his rival’s supporters while the nation waits for official results.
According to the three most reputable quick-count surveys, soft-spoken Jakarta governor Jokowi won the election in Southeast Asia’s largest economy with 52 percent of the vote, but his Suharto-era opponent, Prabowo Subianto, said other data indicated he had won Wednesday’s race.
Jokowi is the first candidate in an Indonesian direct presidential election with no connection to former dictator Suharto’s 1966-1998 regime and its excesses.
“We appeal to the party’s members and sympathizers, volunteers and supporters, you don’t need to parade to celebrate the presidential election victory. It’s better for us to pray and give thanks,” Jokowi said late on Wednesday.
“We need to minimise frication that could arise.” he added.
On Thursday, Jakarta’s police chief warned supporters from both sides that any public celebrations in the capital would result in arrests, and that patrols will be increased.
Natalia Soebagjo, chair of Transparency International’s executive board in Indonesia, said it was reckless for either candidate to declare victory before the official results are announced. She said that the three most reputable quick-count results showed Widodo as the leader, and that she did not trust the surveys Subianto had cited.
“If this continues, I predict in the next 10 days we might see trouble,” she said.
“They can contest it in legal terms and in social terms by creating unrest,” Soebagjo added. “It all depends on what these candidates really want. Is their thirst for power so great that they would want to fight it out to the death?”
It will be around two weeks before votes are officially tallied and the results announced in Indonesia, a country of 240 million people and the world’s most populous Muslim nation. This was the country’s third direct presidential election.