Prabowo makes third bid for Indonesian presidency

Prabowo makes third bid for Indonesian presidency

Twice defeated by incumbent Joko Widodo, controversial military man will try again in 2024

Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto gestures while attending a Gerindra Party national meeting in Bogor, Indonesia, where he announced his intention to run for the presidency again in 2024. (Reuters Photo)
Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto gestures while attending a Gerindra Party national meeting in Bogor, Indonesia, where he announced his intention to run for the presidency again in 2024. (Reuters Photo)

JAKARTA: Indonesian Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto has declared his entry into the country’s presidential race in 2024, his third bid for the top job in the country.

The powerful minister is a controversial figure at home and internationally, having been accused of human rights abuses including involvement in the kidnapping and disappearance of pro-democracy activists in 1998.

Speaking late Friday in front of thousands of members of the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), the former special forces commander accepted its nomination and said he was ready for the presidential bid.

“I am ready to keep fighting for the nation and the people, all my life and soul will be dedicated to our motherland,” Prabowo told the party meeting on the outskirts of the capital Jakarta.

Prabowo has lost two previous bids for the presidential office, having been defeated by incumbent president Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in 2014 and 2019.

After his second defeat, Prabowo and his team claimed the poll results were fraudulent, triggering protests in the capital that turned violent, with multiple deaths.

Jokowi, who is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term, approved of Prabowo’s candidacy.

“That’s how democracy works. If a minister comes to me and tells me (he is running) there’s no way I’d say no, I can’t do that,” the president told journalists late Friday.

“If that’s translated as me giving a blessing, be my guest.”

Prabowo, a former son-in-law of the late dictator Suharto, has denied all allegations of his role in human rights abuses in Jakarta, restive province Papua and breakaway nation East Timor, and he has never been charged.

Amnesty International Indonesia called the 70-year-old’s appointment as defence minister in 2019 “a dark day for human rights”.

It also condemned the administration of then US president Donald Trump for granting Prabowo a visa for a 2020 visit, after Washington had previously blocked his entry over the allegations.


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