Asia-Pacific

Indonesia warns against unrest as Widodo rival rejects results

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Indonesia's President Joko Widodo says his party has secured 54.5 per cent of the vote, and has claimed victory in the nation's presidential election.

Indonesian authorities warned Thursday against unrest as a firebrand ex-general rejected unofficial election results that appeared to hand President Joko Widodo another term as leader of the world's third-biggest democracy.

Widodo ran with Islamic cleric Ma'ruf Amin against former military general Prabowo Subianto, who secured 45 per cent of votes, according to unofficial "quick counts" of sample votes by private pollsters.

"We must wait for the official result. But 12 pollsters have given clear results... we convey that the Jokowi-Maruf ticket got 54.5 per cent of the vote while Prabowo got 45.5 per cent," Widodo told a news conference in south Jakarta.

National Police Chief Tito Karnavian said Wednesday's "smooth and safe" polls would not be disrupted by demonstrations, and warned of arrests.

"If there are any illegal or unconstitutional actions that threaten public stability and security, (authorities) will take firm action," he said.

"We won't tolerate it.

"I urge everyone against mass demonstrations, whether it's to celebrate or to express dissatisfaction" at the results."

INDONESIA GENERAL ELECTIONS
An election official carries a ballot box to be counted in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. (AAP)
AP

This year's campaign was punctuated by bitter mudslinging and a slew of fake news online - much of it directed at the presidential contenders.

Authorities said Thursday they had seen a spike in false reports and hoaxes, with some calling for chaos in the streets and for Indonesians to commit violence in response to the results.

However, the capital Jakarta was quiet Thursday after as many as 190 million voters in the Muslim-majority country cast ballots in the one-day poll - which featured a record 245,000 candidates - to elect a new president, parliamentarians and local legislators.

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Prabowo claims victory in Indonesian election despite early counts showing loss
Prabowo claims victory in Indonesian election despite early counts showing loss

While official results are not due until next month, a series of so-called "quick counts" by pollsters, which are based on samples, showed Widodo between 9 and 11 percentage points ahead.

Quick counts have been reliable indicators in past elections, but Widodo held off declaring victory - while his rival Prabowo Subianto insisted he was the archipelago's next leader.

The General Election Commission's website put him at about 45 per cent early on Thursday based on results from 808 of more than 800,000 polling stations.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo and his running mate Ma'ruf Amin, right, wave to journalist  after a press conference in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo and his running mate Ma'ruf Amin, right, wave to journalist after a press conference in Jakarta, Indonesia.
AP

Widodo's running mate Ma'ruf Amin called for calm Friday, saying the pair would not claim victory until official results were released by the electoral commission.

"We urge people not to be caught up in euphoria based on the quick count results," he told reporters.

'President of all Indonesians'

The former general - who has close ties to the Suharto dictatorship, which collapsed in 1998 - earlier warned he would challenge the results in court if he lost and stage street protests over allegations of voter fraud.

"We will not use illegal tactics because we have won," Subianto said Wednesday.

"For those who defended (my rivals), I'm still going to defend you. I'm the president of all Indonesians."

The 67-year-old, who has long had his eye on the country's top job, lost to Widodo in 2014 and then mounted an unsuccessful legal challenge to that election.

Prabowo Subianto campaigning
Indonesian residential candidate Prabowo Subianto with his supporters in Jakarta this week.
Getty Images

Online, the retired military man was pilloried by social media users who poked fun at his repudiation of the unofficial results and for kissing the ground as he declared himself president.

"We honestly feel sorry for Prabowo, not because he's lost the election (again) but because he is surrounded by people who made him a zombie who can't differentiate between reality and illusion," said one Twitter user with 165,000 followers.

National newspapers called for reconciliation, with top-selling Kompas saying "Let's Unite", while Tempo declared it "One More Time" for Widodo.

Financial markets cheered, with the Jakarta composite stock index and the Indonesian rupiah both higher.

"We expect official results in May to confirm President Jokowi's re-election as indicated by the quick count," said Priyanka Kishore at Oxford Economics in Singapore, using Widodo's nickname.

But she added that an infrastructure-pushing Widodo would still face challenges boosting annual growth of about five percent in Southeast Asia's biggest economy, as it racks up trade deficits and contends with softer commodity prices.

"We do not think that beyond a short-term boost to sentiment, Jokowi's re-election alters Indonesia's economic fortunes materially," Kishore said.

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