Is anybody still listening to the general? asks Asia Sentinel’s John Berthelsen
As an example of how far failed presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto’s stock has fallen, Indonesia’s Constitutional Court, the electoral court of appeal, on Wednesday spent about as much time criticizing the grammar of his appeal against his loss at the polls on July 9 as it did on his arguments. While the court is to reconvene on August 8 to hear further testimony, it was clear that, as has been expected since the July election, he has no chance. A final decision is due by August 22.
Prabowo until recently was one of the most feared people in the country. A former Army Special Forces commander cashiered at the end of the Suharto reign for kidnapping activists after losing out in a power struggle with another general, his then-marriage to Suharto’s daughter could not save him.
This time around, after spending more than a decade rehabilitating his image, he lost by as many as 8 million votes. He has refused to accept the verdict, raising concerns over what he might do. At one point, his followers surrounded the court, a clear bid at intimidation. His past as a ruthless officer is always lurking in the background but he commands no troops and has pledged to use the courts to overturn the verdict.
Prabowo and his brother, Hashim Djojohadikusumo, one of Indonesia’s richest men, are said to have poured US$400 million into his race for president beginning as early as 2009 and running what is regarded as the most virulent and negative campaign in Indonesian history. He or is proxies tried to identify the winner, Bangkok Gov. Joko Widodo, as a secret half-Chinese, a Christian, possibly a communist and a pawn of Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) head Megawati Sukarnoputri.
He came too close to comfort, losing to Jokowi, as Joko is known, by 46.83 percent to 53.17 percent. Only a last-minute spurt on Jokowi’s part saved the country from being ruled by a man who has been described as irrational by generals who served with him and opposed his presidential run.
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