Security ramped up as Indonesia court rules on disputed election

A woman argues with plain-clothed police during a protest near the constitutional court in Jakarta on June 26, 2019, a day before the court reads their decision on defeated presidential challenger's claim that Indonesia's 2019 election was rigged, allegations that spawned deadly rioting in May. (AFP / BAY ISMOYO)
Updated 27 June 2019

Security ramped up as Indonesia court rules on disputed election

  • President Joko Widodo was declared by the election commission winner of April’s presidential race with a comfortable double-digit lead
  • But challenger Prabowo Subianto has refused to concede defeat and has sought to overturn the result, citing systematic fraud and abuse of power

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s Constitutional Court will rule on Thursday on an opposition challenge to the official presidential election result after allegations the vote won by President Joko Widodo in the world’s third-biggest democracy was rigged.
Widodo won April’s presidential race with a comfortable double-digit lead, the General Election Commission’s (KPU) official count showed last month.
However, his challenger, retired general Prabowo Subianto, has refused to concede defeat and his legal team has called on the court to overturn the result or disqualify Widodo’s ticket, citing systematic fraud and abuse of power.
The election supervisory agency (Bawaslu) has said there was no evidence of systematic cheating and independent observers have said the poll was free and fair.
At least 47,000 security personnel have been deployed in Jakarta in case of protests by Prabowo supporters and police have blocked roads in the vicinity of the court, which has been hearing the case for two weeks.
The court’s verdict, delivered by a panel of nine judges, is final and no appeal can be lodged.
Some of the worst civil unrest in years broke out in the heart of Jakarta last month after the official election results were announced. Prabowo supporters clashed with security forces and called for Widodo to step down.
At least nine people were killed and 900 injured in two nights of the violence, with police firing tear gas and rubber bullets and protesters charging them with rocks, sticks, and firecrackers.
Amnesty International Indonesia said this week police used excessive force and accused officers of torturing several people while trying to contain the riots.
The rights group has called for an independent probe into the deaths, which police say they are conducting with the national commission for human rights.

’Massive tampering’
Authorities have blamed last month’s violence on several groups, saying many of the rioters were paid, and also accused a retired special forces general with links to Prabowo of masterminding a plot to assassinate top state officials during the unrest.
Prabowo and his running mate Sandiaga Uno have urged their supporters to stay off the streets and “watch the verdict at home on television instead,” said Andre Rosiade, a campaign spokesman.
Both sides have said they will accept the court’s ruling.
Prabowo’s legal team sued the KPU and presented in court witnesses and evidence they said showed there was “election tampering in a structural, systematic, and massive manner.”
They claim Prabowo won 52% of the vote — against 44.5% according to official results — and have asked for the court to nullify the official results as they stand, hold a re-vote, or declare Prabowo and Uno the winners.
The legal team has also called on the court to disqualify Widodo’s ticket on the grounds that his running mate, Ma’ruf Amin, failed to resign from an advisory position on the board of a state-controlled bank as required by election law.
The team has also sought to highlight issues with Widodo’s campaign financing, while claiming he used state apparatus as a campaign tool. It has also called on the court to dismiss all KPU commissioners.
Many experts say it will be very difficult to prove the opposition’s claims and two separate legal teams for the KPU and Widodo have said the allegations are baseless.
The vast majority, around 70%, of Indonesians believe the election was honest and fair, an opinion poll by Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting showed last week.


Philippine regulator repeals utilities’ water contracts after Duterte rebuke

Updated 19 min 46 sec ago

Philippine regulator repeals utilities’ water contracts after Duterte rebuke

  • Concession agreements with Manila Water Co. Inc. and Maynilad Water Services as ‘onerous and disadvantageous’ to the public
  • Existing concessions will expire on 2022, but were subsequently extended by 15 years

MANILA: The Philippines’ water regulator said on Wednesday it has canceled the 15-year extension of concession deals it signed with the country’s two largest utilities after pressure from President Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte described the concession agreements with Manila Water Co. Inc. and Maynilad Water Services as “onerous and disadvantageous” to the public, prompting them to be revoked in a move that could turn off investors at a time the government is seeking foreign capital to modernize its infrastructure.
Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, the country’s regulator, told lawmakers it had revoked last week a decision extending the water concession deals with the two utilities until 2037, sending their shares tumbling more than 13 percent. The existing concessions will expire on 2022.
The firms, which are servicing a combined 16 million customers, secured 25-year concession agreements in 1997, which were extended in 2009 by a further 15 years.
Duterte acted after Manila Water and Maynilad won arbitration cases in Singapore against the government.
The arbitration court in Singapore ordered the Philippines government to pay the utilities a combined 10.8 billion pesos ($212.14 million) in compensation. The companies had said they would forfeit any damage claims to avoid angering the president.
“These companies not only have inefficiently delivered water to the households, but exacted unconscionable amounts from the taxpayers,” Salvador Panelo, Duterte’s spokesman, said in a statement.
The water utilities’ woes display a violation of the sanctity of contracts, Guenter Taus, former president of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, told Reuters.
“It does not instill investor’s confidence. You can’t just go out and revoke contracts,” Taus said.
The embattled companies’ shares continued their decline on Wednesday, with Manila Water slumping 14 percent.
Maynilad stockholders Metro Pacific Investments Corp. and DMCI Holdings Inc. sank 13 percent and 13.4 percent, respectively.
Manila Water president Jose Rene Almendras told lawmakers the company has yet to study the impact of the regulator’s decision.
“There should be a clean process because we have commitments both in terms of capital expenditures, projects and loans,” Maynilad chief operating officer Randolph Estrellado said.