Indonesia’s president-elect Joko Widodo has called for the country to unify after a deeply divisive election that ended with his rival quitting in controversy.
Indonesia’s electoral commission on Tuesday night announced Jakarta’s popular governor had won with 53 per cent — or more than 70 million votes — in the hard-fought July 9 poll.
Hours before the declaration, which had already been predicted by several credible surveys, rival candidate Prabowo Subianto condemned the election process.
The ex-general said he and his vice presidential candidate rejected the “legally tainted” poll.
“We withdraw ourselves from the ongoing process,” he said.
Consequently, his coalition’s witnesses walked out of the electoral commission, where tallying was in its final stages.
More than 3000 riot police fortified the building in central Jakarta, but supporters of the divergent camps heeded advice to stay at home.
The close result and polarising nature of the candidates raised fears of riots, particularly for Jakarta residents with memories of the trouble that came with the fall of former president Suharto in 1998.
Mr Joko, better known as Jokowi, made his acceptance speech from a wooden boat at Sunda Kelapa, Jakarta’s old port, with vice president-elect Jusuf Kalla.
Mr Joko first thanked Mr Prabowo and his running mate, Hatta Rajasa. He called for an end to the partisanship that has split Indonesia.
Referring to the numbers one and two that have designated the rival tickets, and his famous “Salam Dua Jari” (Two Finger Greeting) campaign song, he proposed a new unified slogan — “Salam Tiga Jari” (Three Finger Greeting).
“Forget number one, forget number two,” Mr Joko said. “Let’s go back to one Indonesia.”
The formality caps a remarkable rise for Mr Joko, 53, whose journey from bamboo shack to president has shaken Indonesia’s establishment and inspired millions of ordinary citizens.
As mayor of the central Java city of Solo and governor of Jakarta, he has been lauded as a hands-on reformist.
The experienced Mr Kalla, 72, was President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s vice president in his first term.
Mr Joko is tipped to retain Dr Yudhoyono’s foreign policy settings.
In a debate during the campaign, he spoke up for strengthening people-to-people links with Australia to build trust and respect for Indonesia.
It was unclear on Tuesday whether Mr Prabowo, 62, still intended to challenge the election in the constitutional court.
Most analysts doubt he would have the grounds to succeed.
There was also speculation of repercussions for Mr Prabowo personally with pundits pointing to a little-known electoral law that could see him face up to five years’ jail and fined up to Rp50 billion (N701.2 million) for withdrawing from the race.
The former son-in-law of Suharto was popular with voters feeling some nostalgia for the past and who liked his strong nationalist rhetoric.
But he was also dogged by claims of human rights abuses from his time in East Timor and in the chaos that came with the collapse of Suharto.
Mr Joko is expected to be inaugurated on October 20.