Who is Prabowo Subianto, the former leader of the Indonesian election?

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JAKARTA, Indonesia – Millions of people will take buses, motorbikes, boats or ferries on Wednesday to polling stations across Indonesia’s sprawling archipelago, where they will vote for a successor to President Joko Widodo. The vote follows months of debate about the extent of Widodo’s victory in the election and is seen as proof of the strength of democracy in the world’s fourth most populous country.

Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto is expected to gather more votes than the other two candidates: former Central Java governor Ganjar Pranowo and former Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan. If no candidate receives at least 50 percent of the vote, however, the election will go to a runoff between the top two candidates in June. Indonesia also elects legislative and executive representatives at all levels of government.

Widodo has served two terms and is constitutionally barred from seeking a third. He has come under sharp criticism from former friends and supporters who say he has been trying to sway the election in favor of Prabowo, a former general who was once banned from running. come into the United States because of human rights abuses. Prabowo has vowed to continue with Widodo’s trademark policies, including his efforts to build a new capital and his commitment to remain uninvolved in US geopolitical conflicts – China.

Here’s what you need to know:

In Indonesia, a popular president faces sharp criticism about his role in an election

Why is the Indonesian election important?

Indonesia has been one of Asia’s democratic bright spots since the fall of dictator Suharto in the late 1990s, managing peaceful transitions of power even as military juntas and authoritarian leaders have seized power there. the neighboring countries. This election, however, has alarmed watchdog groups, who say that Widodo has been overstepping democratic norms to secure Prabowo’s victory.

Widodo’s critics claim he pressured the country’s Constitutional Court to change the eligibility requirements for political candidates so his son, 36-year-old Gibran Rakabuming Raka, could be Prabowo’s running mate. They also claim that Widodo has been using his personal political influence as well as the power of the executive office to interfere with the campaign activities of other candidates. Widodo and Prabowo have dismissed these allegations.

Goenawan Mohamad, one of Indonesia’s most prominent public intellectuals, said Widodo has “destroyed confidence” in the country’s political institutions. Rights activists, including the head of Amnesty International in Indonesia, said this may be the country’s most unfair election since the Suharto era.

Indonesia, the world’s Muslim-majority country of 280 million people, has a vital role to play in addressing global challenges, from religious extremism to climate change. It is rich in vital minerals such as nickel, used in electric vehicle batteries.

Prabowo, 72, who is often called by his first name, comes from a wealthy and prominent family in Indonesia and was a lieutenant general in the army under Suharto. International human rights groups say Prabowo abused his rights as military leader, including ordering the deportation of pro-democracy activists and directing the massacre of independence fighters in East Timor and elsewhere. Prabowo was dishonorably discharged from the army in 1998 but was never criminally charged.

Prabowo has tried since the early 2000s to stage a political comeback through the nationalist Gerindra Party, at various times striking alliances with Islamic hardliners and pro-military groups. He challenged Widodo in national elections twice but has grown closer to the president since he was named Defense Minister in 2019.

Unlike previous elections, Prabowo has not developed his military credentials, instead projecting a softer, older image that has connected with Indonesia’s massive youth population, scientists say. political. Videos of Prabowo dancing at campaign events have gone viral on social media, fueling debate about whitewashing his brutal past.

What are the main issues in the election?

The election is widely seen as a referendum on Widodo’s initiatives, from his efforts to establish an electric car manufacturing supply chain to his efforts to eradicate food insecurity by converting areas of peatland full of carbon to farms.

Prabowo has vowed to continue Widodo’s policies “directly.” Ganjar, who comes from Widodo’s party, the Indonesian Democratic Struggle Party (PDI-P), has said that he will largely follow the president’s policies but will make an effort to improve them.

Anies, the former Jakarta governor who has been polling in second place, is the only candidate who has rejected some of Widodo’s key initiatives. He has said, for example, that he believes Widodo’s project to build a new capital could “create new inequalities” and should be re-evaluated.

If Prabowo wins, rights activists say they worry civil liberties could be eroded in Indonesia. Defending Prabowo, campaign consultant Budiman Sudjatmiko said “Freedom is not the only agenda for our country.”

When will there be results?

Full, official results will be released after several weeks, but independent polling companies will begin reporting unofficial vote results on election day. Candidates could declare victory or concede defeat on polling day.

In 2019, Prabowo claimed the election was rigged against him, filing a complaint that was eventually dismissed by Indonesia’s Constitutional Court. Mass demonstrations and riots are not uncommon after elections in Indonesia.

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