The presidential election dispute hearing at the Constitutional Court took an unexpected turn on Thursday as one of the witnesses testified on the alleged involvement of local government heads in mobilizing votes for losing presidential ticket Prabowo Subianto-Hatta Rajasa in Papua.
Nabire Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Tagor Hutapea testified via video link that Dogiyai Regent Thomas Tigi had attempted to interfere with vote tabulation by persuading members of the District Election Committee (PPD) to rig the vote in favor of the Prabowo-Hatta ticket.
'During that time, the Dogiyai General Elections Commission [KPUD] chairman, Didimus, told them [the PPD] that if they wanted money, then they could get it from the regent. But the votes must be diverted toward the Prabowo-Hatta ticket,' he said.
Tagor added that on the day before the vote tabulation in Dogiyai, the PPK officials declined to submit the election documents, including the C1 recapitulation forms, before their salaries were paid.
'[Then], on July 16, the assistant [to the regent] came to Dogiyai to meet with election organizers.'
During the meeting, it was agreed that the salary would be raised from Rp 150,000 (US$12.84) to Rp 250,000 per person.
On July 17, Thomas reportedly visited the KPUD headquarters to inform poll officials that they would need to rig the votes if they wanted to get paid. However, the plan backfired after the public got wind of the plan and became upset.
The vote-counting process in Dogiyai then proceeded, despite the fact that the PPD officers had yet to receive their salaries.
The PPD officers also warned the Dogiyai KPUD not to alter the results and to keep an eye on the process until it reached the provincial level.
Tagor's testimony came amid the Prabowo camp's incessant accusations of massive and systemic fraud committed by election organizers in Papua in favor of president-elect Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo.
Prabowo's legal team member Maqdir Ismail said the testimony was of no consequence.
'Even if it's true, it won't affect the results because it happened during the tabulation process,' he said.
Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) chairman Muhammad said that the committee would have to collect additional information before it could act on the fresh allegations.
'I believe we need to get all the details first,' he said.
The Prabowo camp had been trying to paint Prabowo as the victim of ballot manipulation that secured 100 percent of the vote for Jokowi in some regions in Papua, despite the fact that no voting occurred in 14 out of 29 regencies on July 9.
Several other witnesses presented by Prabowo's legal team have presented dubious claims.
One of the witnesses, Novela Mawipa, claimed on Monday that she was just a simple village girl from the mountains who supported Prabowo.
It was later discovered that Novela was a failed legislative candidate and the Gerindra Party chairperson for Paniai regency, Papua. Footage from her frank testimony later went viral on the Internet thanks to her charismatic personality.
Prabowo's brother, Hashim Djojohadikusumo, said on Wednesday that Novela's house had been vandalized by a mob one day after she delivered her testimony.
However, Papua police spokesman Sr. Comr. Sulistyo Pudjo denied the claim, saying on Thursday that Novela's house was vandalized before the July 9 balloting.
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