Former army strongman Prabowo Subianto claims to have ‘‘withdrawn’’ from the presidential race on the day it was to be announced that he had lost. In an extraordinary statement in his campaign headquarters on Tuesday afternoon, Mr Prabowo said he entirely rejected the judgment delivered by 133 million Indonesians at the ballot box on July 9, because it was the result of ‘‘massive cheating that is structured and systematic’’. He said the country’s Electoral Commission had failed in its duty to democracy, so he withdrew his participation from the process. He also suggested, though not explicitly, that he would not take his appeal to Indonesia’s constitutional court. Later, his legal representative, Mahendradatta, confirmed to kompas.com that, “only those with legal standing can go to the Constitutional Court – that is those who are registered as presidential candidates … By withdrawing we … no longer have legal standing”.
Mr Prabowo’s confidante, Fadli Zon, said the campaign team would let people know what was the next step “but for sure it will not be anything illegal”.
There was also speculation that the withdrawal violated the presidential election law, which says anyone who withdraws after the voting will be jailed for between three and six years, and fined 50 billion and 100 billion rupiah ($5 million to $10 million)
It is unclear what Mr Prabowo will do next, and he did not spell it out, but, even though he urged calm, his response will heighten the risk of street battles launched by his hardline supporters.