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Ex-general who lost Indonesian presidential vote to challenge results in Constitutional Court

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JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia's losing presidential candidate plans to file a legal challenge in the nation's highest court, his campaign said Wednesday, a move that is likely to prolong the political uncertainty in the country's transition to democracy.

Jakarta Gov. Joko Widodo, known to most as "Jokowi," was declared the winner late Tuesday after all the votes were counted from the July 9 election.

Suharto-era general Prabowo Subianto withdrew shortly before the result was announced, alleging massive fraud during the election, and charging that it was unfair and undemocratic. He has repeatedly claimed that pollsters with links to his campaign showed he was ahead.

Campaign team spokesman Tantowi Yahya told journalists that Subianto is contesting the voting procedure and his lawyers are preparing to file a challenge with the Constitutional Court within three days.

"We will not surrender our rights" to hold a second vote, Yahya said. "The indication of massive fraud and widespread irregularities is overwhelming."

Election observers found the vote to be generally fair and free, with minimal abnormalities. The vote was Indonesia's third direct presidential election after emerging from dictatorship, and defeated candidates in the previous two elections also challenged the results in the court, but failed.

Officials at the Constitutional Court have said if an election challenge is filed by this weekend, the case would be heard by Aug. 6 and the verdict would come on Aug. 21. The ruling cannot be appealed.

Subianto will assert that the Election Commission's list of eligible voters differs from local lists in several provinces, said his younger brother, Hashim Djojohadikusumo, a businessman who is also a leader of the campaign. He estimated 50,000 polling stations have reported irregularities, putting an estimated 21 million votes in question out of the total of nearly 133 million cast.

PHOTO: Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto gestures during a press conference in Jakarta, Indonesia, Tuesday,  July 22, 2014. Nearly complete results in Indonesia's presidential elections showed Jakarta governor Joko Widodo leading with 52 percent of the vote. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto gestures during a press conference in Jakarta, Indonesia, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. Nearly complete results in Indonesia's presidential elections showed Jakarta governor Joko Widodo leading with 52 percent of the vote. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

Subianto's court case is unlikely to alter the election outcome because Widodo won by nearly 8.5 million votes, said Election Supervisory Board Commissioner Nelson Simanjuntak.

"They must show strong and honest evidence," Simanjuntak said, adding that the board is ready to open its records of the voting results to the court.

Final results showed that Widodo, from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, received just under 71 million votes, or 53 percent, while Subianto got 62.6 million votes, or 47 percent. Voter turnout was 71 percent.

Hashim also called on world leaders not to congratulate Widodo since his status as elected president was still disputed. However, congratulations flowed in from President Barack Obama, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

A statement from White House said Obama looked forward to working with Widodo to deepen bilateral relations.

"Through this free and fair election, the people of Indonesia have once again shown their commitment to democracy," it said.

Abbott also congratulated Indonesia for its transition to democracy and the conduct of the election. He said the Australian government is looking forward to working closely with Widodo.


Associated Press writer Ali Kotarumalos contributed to this report.

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