JAKARTA - Indonesia's outgoing leader on Monday came within a whisker of telling retired general Prabowo Subianto to admit defeat so that the country's most bitterly fought leadership contest could be resolved.
Prabowo has almost certainly lost the July 9 election but on Sunday cried foul and demanded the Elections Commission investigate vote cheating before he would accept its result. The Commission is due to announce the result on Monday or Tuesday. [sure there was "vote cheating". . . and 99% was committed by his party!]
"Admitting defeat is noble," President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told reporters in a clear reference to Prabowo.
A protracted wrangle over the election outcome could undermine confidence in Southeast Asia's biggest economy which has seen strong investment in recent years.
Private tallies of the 130 million votes show Jakarta governor Joko "Jokowi" Widodo won by about five percentage points over Prabowo who has spent the last 10 years preparing for his presidential bid.
Prabowo's recalcitrance has led to fears his supporters might turn violent and some have threatened to rally outside the Elections Commission (KPU) office in central Jakarta ahead of the official result, which under law must be declared by July 22.
The national police and military have deployed nearly 300,000 personnel across the vast archipelago of 240 million people. Security has also been beefed up around the KPU office but there has been no word of any violence.
"We don't anticipate the KPU to be a hot spot for violence," national police spokesperson Boy Rafli Amar told Reuters.
"At the same time, we ask the public not to assemble there so that the KPU officials can continue their work in a conducive atmosphere."
Candidates can lodge complaints with the Constitutional Court, [run by many of Prabowo's supporters] which has been done by the losers in the previous two presidential elections. The Court has to return a verdict on any challenge within two weeks. The verdict cannot be appealed.