President refuses to acknowledge election defeat

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Indonesia's president Megawati Sukarnoputri has refused to acknowledge defeat in this week's national elections.

Indonesia's president Megawati Sukarnoputri has refused to acknowledge defeat in this week's national elections.

With 104 million of the estimated 120 million votes cast in Monday's elections counted, challenger Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had 61 per cent to Megawati's 39 per cent, according to the General Election Commission.

Despite this, Megawati said she would not concede until official results were announced. That is scheduled to take place on 5 October but could happen earlier given the quick pace of vote counting. Yudhoyono said he would not formally claim victory until the tally was complete.

Megawati apologised for her government's shortcomings today and called on the next administration to be "more responsive to the needs of the people."

She told the People's Consultative Assembly that her Cabinet had enacted key democratic reforms, helped decentralise the country's administration and peacefully ended several sectarian and religious conflicts across the archipelago.

But she acknowledged that corruption and terrorism remain problems, saying "it is hoped that the next government will be more responsive to the needs of the people."

"It is undeniable that there are a lot of tasks which we did not complete and various weaknesses that still have to be improved. For these weaknesses and all the things that have not been finished ... I offer you my deepest apologies."

"The bombing in ... Bali on October 12, 2002, the bombing at the Marriott Hotel in Jakarta on August 5, 2003, as well as the bomb in front of the Australian embassy on September 9, 2004, have reinforced our awareness that terror threats must not be underestimated," she said.

Megawati said the government needed to adopt "more effective methods and procedures to handle terrorism."

Yudhoyono, a retired general, who served in Megawati's government as security czar, has remained in his home on the outskirts of Jakarta, where aides say he is considering possible Cabinet line-ups and new state policies.

Analysts have urged him to move quickly to establish his reformist credentials and reassure the business community by naming a new attorney general and finance minister.

The nation, which is home to more Muslims than any other country in the world, is saddled with almost 40 per cent unemployment and rampant corruption, and has been hit by three terror attacks by al-Qaida-linked militants in the past two years.

The election capped a year of democracy in Indonesia, whose voters elected a new legislature in April before taking part in two rounds of balloting for the president.

The process has been held up by the United States and other governments as a key step in the country's transition to democracy six years after the downfall of ex-dictator Suharto.