FPI leader Rizieq says real vote count shouldn’t be published as it may ‘confuse’ public

FILE PHOTO: Gerindra chairman Prabowo Subianto meeting with Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) founder Rizieq Shihab in Mecca in June 2018. Photo: Instagram
FILE PHOTO: Gerindra chairman Prabowo Subianto meeting with Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) founder Rizieq Shihab in Mecca in June 2018. Photo: Instagram

For those supporting Prabowo Subianto and his claims he actually won Indonesia’s April 17th election, neither the same-day quick count polls nor the ongoing results from the painstakingly documented real vote count election (which all uniformly predict incumbent Joko Widodo winning by more than 10%) is good enough evidence to dissuade them from their allegations of massive and systemic voter fraud.

Related Watch: Prabowo supporters refuse to let police take down huge banner declaring his victory in Bogor

A representative of Rizieq Shihab — the influential leader of the country’s most infamous hardline Islamist organization, the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) —  told the media yesterday that Rizieq wanted the General Election Commission (KPU) to stop publishing the results of the real vote count (which they are updating in real-time online) as it may lead to “confusion”.

“[Rizieq] suggested that Prabowo’s campaign immediately go to Bawaslu (The Election Supervisory Agency) and the KPU to stop publishing the real count so as not to create a bad impression in society that ultimately confuses the public. That would be dangerous,” said Yusuf Muhammad Martak, the head of the National Movement to Guard the Ulama Fatwa (GNPF), yesterday in Bogor as quoted by Detik.

Yusuf was speaking at the third “Ijtima Ulama” conference, which was held yesterday by GNPF, a hardliner-affiliated political group originally started to organize the massive protests against former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama after the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) passed a fatwa declaring that he had committed blasphemy against Islam.

Yesterday’s conference, which was attended by Prabowo, was meant to discuss the results of the April 17 election. In the end, the participants concluded that there had been massive and systemic voter fraud (no surprise there) and urged Bawaslu to disqualify President Jokowi and his running mate, MUI head Ma’ruf Amin.

Besides statements made by his representatives, Rizieq — once a fugitive from Indonesian law who continues to live in self-imposed exile in Saudia Arabia — addressed the conference via a video in which he said President Jokowi and his supporters must “repent” for trying to steal the election or face God’s wrath.

Prabowo and his campaign have not made any comments in regards to Rizieq’s recommendation regarding the real vote count not being published, but the odds that they’ll act on his advice or that of yesterday’s conference are small, based on empirical evidence. Prabowo previously ignored the advice of the second Ijtima Ulama gathering, which recommended he choose either a religious figure or a member of an Islam-based party like PKS as his running mate. Instead, Prabowo chose Sandiaga Uno, who is considered a religious moderate by most. 

So we doubt KPU’s real-time real count updates will be going anywhere before they deliver the results on or before their deadline of May 22. Once the official results are in, there’s a chance that Prabowo will attempt to challenge them in the Constitutional Court, as he did unsuccessfully in 2014 the first time he lost to Jokowi.

One might hope that Prabowo and his supporters will finally accept the result if it is upheld by the court, but when they’re claiming a conspiracy so massive that it could manipulate the real vote count (a conspiracy that, due to the real count’s transparent nature, would require the participation of thousands of Jokowi supporters acting secretly and perfectly in unison to manufacture thousands of fake forms and data), what kind of evidence could convince them?

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