The Indonesian election commission has ordered a probe before the April 17 election into allegations that thousands of ballots have been cast by expats in Malaysia before overseas polling opened.
The body is also investigating the alleged discovery of several bags of ballots already cast in favour of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and parliamentary candidates in Selangor in Malaysia, according to kompas.com.
Election commission chief Ilham Saputra said the body would “immediately set up a team and send its members [to Malaysia] to ascertain what really happened”.
Malaysia has around 1.2 million Indonesians registered to vote ahead of the simultaneous presidential and parliamentary polling on April 14 at the embassy and consulates.
There have been claims of irregularities in the voter list made by the presidential challenger, Prabowo Subianto. A video showed pre-filled ballots confirming fears of electoral fraud, said Prabowo aide Irawan Ronodipuro.
The challenging campaign team asked Jokowi, the former mayor of Solo who became president in 2014, to “be professional and neutral in ensuring a fair election with integrity”.
The president urged the public to report cases of suspected fraud to the Election Supervisory Board.
Jokowi has portrayed himself as a democratic reformist but he has come increasingly close to Indonesia’s generals.
The incumbent is well connected with the military, which has dominated Indonesia politics since independence from the Netherlands.
“He has built up a personal network of trusted officers who had worked with him since early in his political career,” said Antonius Made Tony Supriatma at the Iseas-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore.
Puri Kencana Putri, a rights activist, said: ”No doubt, despite the military being banned from politics, Jokowi knows full well that the armed forces are still the most important political player in Indonesia.
“Our society is stumbling when it comes to spelling out the narrative of civilian and military. [It has] failed to guard the reform agenda, including to revoke the ‘dual function’ of the military.”
Polling suggests Jokowi is leading by a significant but shrinking margin, while Prabowo’s staff say their research gives the failed 2014 candidate a 24-point lead.
Polls from late March suggested Jokowi had a large lead but undecided voters were estimated at up to 20 per cent.
President Joko Widodo’s lead has been narrowing. Picture credit: Kremlin