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Indonesian prelate's political peace call

Archbishop Suharyo warns against any violent reprisals over poll results
Indonesian prelate's political peace call

A voter lodges her ballot at a polling station in East Jakarta on April 17. (Photo by Konradus Epa/ucanews.com)

Published: April 23, 2019 04:04 AM GMT
Updated: April 23, 2019 04:12 AM GMT

Archbishop of Jakarta Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo has called on Catholics to promote unity amidst political tensions in the wake of Indonesia's presidential election of April 17.

In an Easter message, he called on all candidates to settle any disputes through legal processes.

"Whoever the general election commission declares as the winner, everyone must accept it," Archbishop Suharyo said.

The commission is not scheduled to announce final results for the presidential and legislative elections until next month.

A calculation by eight pollsters indicated that incumbent President Joko Widodo and his running mate, Ma'ruf Amin, had won by a margin of about 10 percent.

However, rival Prabowo Subianto did not accept the results and claimed victory.

Observers saw the claim as a maneuver aimed at delegitimizing the election result and creating political chaos. 

Some polling institutions have been threatened with violence over alleged bias.

Archbishop Suharyo, who is also the president of Indonesian Bishops' Conference, praised a high Catholic voter turn-out and said the election should bring happiness, not community divisions.

"Catholics must not be afraid," the prelate told ucanews.com after explaining the meaning of his Easter message to reporters at a media conference conducted at the Assumption of Mary Cathedral.

He added that unity and reconciliation are needed to heal social wounds caused by election campaigning and prevent conflict from escalating.

"Our Easter theme 'We are wisdom, a nation with dignity' is a reminder for Indonesian people, particularly Catholics, to labor for unity towards the creation of a dignified nation," Archbishop Suharyo said.

Meanwhile, Ignatius Jonan, Energy and Mineral Resources Minister, who also attended the media conference, said that Catholics must be proactive in maintaining peace.

"We, as Catholics, should cooperate and help to cool down political tension," the Catholic layman said.

Johanes Widiyanto, a parishioner of St. Arnold Church in Bekasi, West Java, said the archbishop's message is timely and could reduce friction among Catholics who had different political views about the election candidates

"Easter is a time for us to reunite with our brothers and sisters," he said, adding that political preferences should not damage personal relationships. 

Meanwhile, a Catholic layman named Iwan Purwoko on April 19 carried a wooden cross for 33 kilometers on the main island of Java to draw attention to his call for political calm in the sprawling Indonesian archipelago.

Purwoko was quoted as saying he had experienced a form of personal anxiety as rival camps attacked each other during election campaigning.

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