Prabowo Subianto declared Indonesian president-elect as rivals’ appeal rejected

24 April 2024, 09:34

Prabowo Subianto
Indonesia Election Prabowo Subianto. Picture: PA

The defence minister will take office later this year.

Indonesia’s electoral commission has formally declared Prabowo Subianto president-elect in a ceremony, after the country’s highest court rejected challenges to his landslide victory lodged by two losing presidential candidates.

Mr Subianto, who is currently defence minister, won the election with 58.6% of the votes, or more than 96 million ballots, more than twice the amount received by either of the other two candidates.

But his rivals alleged that his victory had depended on large-scale fraud and widespread state interference.

Authorities blocked streets leading to the General Election Commission compound, where more than 4,200 police and soldiers were deployed.

Portraits of new Indonesian leader
Mr Subianto won the election in a landslide (AP)

Wearing matching long-sleeved white shirts, Mr Subianto and vice president-elect Gibran Rakabuming Raka waved to their supporters as they arrived at the building.

“The race has finished … the tough contest, with sometimes heated debates, is over,” Mr Subianto said during the ceremony, attended by the country’s political elite, including rival candidate Anies Baswedan and his running mate Muhaimin Iskandar.

“And now our people demand that political leaders must work together and collaborate for the people’s welfare and to eliminate poverty and corruption in Indonesia,” he added.

Mr Subianto will take office in October, succeeding the popular Joko Widodo, the country’s first president from outside the Jakarta elite.

The General Election Commission certified the election results on March 20, but the formal declaration ceremony was put on hold following legal challenges from rival candidates, former Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan and former Central Java governor Ganjar Pranowo, who sought to annul the result and demand a revote.

Subianto and his running mate Gibran Rakabuming Raka -
Subianto and his running mate Gibran Rakabuming Raka – the eldest son of Indonesian President JokoWidodo (AP)

They also alleged nepotism, challenging the candidacy of outgoing President Joko Widodo’s eldest son, Mr Raka, as Mr Subianto’s running mate.

Mr Baswedan and Mr Pranowo argued that Mr Raka, 37, should have been disqualified because the minimum age for candidates is 40, and they asked the court to bar him from a revote.

A long-serving commander in Indonesia’s Kopassus special forces, Mr Subianto was discharged from the military in 1998 after Kopassus soldiers tortured activists who opposed the dictator Suharto, his father-in-law.

He never faced a trial and vehemently denies any involvement, although several of his men were tried and convicted.

Mr Subianto went into self-exile in Jordan before returning and founding the Gerindra Party in early 2008.

In the past, he worked closely with hard-line Islamists to undermine his opponents and previously made three bids for the presidency, twice unsuccessfully challenging his own losses to Mr Widodo.

Mr Subianto’s refusal to accept the results of the 2019 presidential election led to violence that left nine people dead in Jakarta, but he joined the cabinet after Widodo offered him the defence ministry in a bid for unity.

By Press Association

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