JAKARTA, Indonesia – Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto alleged Friday there had "been quite massive incidences" of fraud in general elections, which he said might prevent him from winning the most divisive polls in the fragile democracy's history.
The Suharto-era general has been claiming to be ahead in the vote count, whose official results will be announced next week.
But in an interview with The Associated Press, Subianto for the first time suggested he might lose to his challenger, former Jakarta governor Joko Widodo, due to voting fraud.
"Half of the Indonesian people support me," he said. "In my conviction, is it more than half, if there is no cheating."
Several reputable organizations have carried out "quick count" of a sample of the votes that show Widodo with a small but decisive lead. The quick counts have accurately forecast past regional and national elections in Indonesia, and independent analysts say there is no reason to think otherwise this time.
Subianto's insistence that he was on course for victory, and his allegations of fraud, have led to speculation in some quarters that the superrich candidate might be trying to himself fix the results or will refuse to concede. That would put pressure on the country's democratic institutions and could possibly lead to violence.
The 63-year-old said he may well challenge the result in the Constitutional Court because of the alleged vote fraud. The court, whose past chief justice is serving a life sentence for accepting a bribe to rule in favor of a plaintiff in a regional election dispute, has two weeks to rule.
"We will see, if there is indication and evidence of massive fraud and massive and systematic cheating, then we will not accept the result," he said.
He gave no details behind his allegations.
Subianto's bid was backed by a coalition of the country's' largest political parties, though he acknowledged the parties might switch to Widodo. Political parties in Indonesia are vehicles to get power and the spoils that come with it, meaning that they often jump to the winning side in an election.
"Whatever will be, will be," he said. "Coalitions are created, coalitions are ended. Even in a marriage, you can get divorced."
Widodo, known by his nickname Jokowi, declared victory hours after the July 9 polls based on the quick counts, but has put off any celebration or transition planning until the official count in the sprawling country of 260 million people is announced on July 22.
Widodo is a former furniture salesman with a vastly different pedigree to past Indonesian leaders, who have mostly been drawn from the country's business and military elite. He rose from political obscurity because of his reputation for good governance and concern for the poor. His supporters also include members of the elite, but he is nevertheless promising a new kind of leadership in the world's most populous Muslim nation.