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Defense minister and two former governors vie for Indonesian presidency

Defense minister and two former governors vie for Indonesian presidency

 


By EDNA TARIGAN
Associated Press

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) Indonesians will elect popular president's successor on Wednesday Joko Widodowho is serving his second and final term.

It's a three-way race for the presidency between the current Minister of Defense Prabowo Subianto and two former provincial governors, Anies Baswedan and Ganjar Pranowo.

Subianto, who is widely considered the favorite, chose Widodos' eldest son, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, as his running mate.

About 205 million people are eligible to vote in the world's third-largest democracy and most populous Muslim-majority country.

Here is some information about the candidates and their running mates.

PRABOWO SUBIANTO

Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto is the only candidate with ties to the 1967-98 Suharto dictatorship, when he was a lieutenant general.

A longtime commander of the Kopassus special forces, he was discharged for dishonor in 1998 after Kopassus soldiers kidnapped and tortured political opponents of Suharto, his father-in-law at the time. Of the 22 activists kidnapped that year, 13 are still missing. Subianto was never tried, although several of his men were tried and found guilty.

He went into exile in Jordan for several years before returning and founding the Gerindra Party in early 2008. He ran for president twice, losing each time to current President Joko Widodo.

He refused to acknowledge the results but accepted Widodo's offer to become defense minister in 2019, a bid for unity.

Polls give Subianto, 72, a head start over his two rivals, but perhaps not with the majority needed to avoid a runoff. If he is the oldest candidate, his running mate is the youngest: 36 years old. The mayor of Surakarta, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, Widodo's son.

Raka did not reach the legal minimum age of 40, but was allowed to run under an exception created by the Constitutional Court then led by Widodo's brother-in-law, allowing current and former regional governors to present at 35 years old.

Subianto maintains close ties with radical Islamists which he uses to weaken his opponents.

He vowed to continue Widodo's work economic development plan, in what experts see as an attempt to capitalize on Widodos' popularity. It is strongly contested by human rights activists, who link it to torture and disappearances during the final years of the Suharto dictatorship.

GANJAR PRANOWO

Ganjar Pranowo is the ruling party's candidate, but does not have the support of Widodo, who has distanced himself from the party's campaign and is seen as implicitly supporting Subianto and Raka, his son.

Pranowo served as a national lawmaker for the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party for 10 years before being elected in 2013 to the first of two terms as governor of Central Java.

While governor, he refused to allow Israel to participate in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup to be held in his province. FIFA then dropped Indonesia as host of the matches, sparking a backlash against Pranowo from soccer fans. Israel and Muslim-majority Indonesia do not have diplomatic relations.

He has been a less enthusiastic supporter of Widodo's policies than Subianto.

We want to develop Indonesia faster and continue the good things that have been done by the current government, fix what is not good enough and leave the bad ones aside, Pranowo said.

His running mate is Mohammad Mahfud, who resigned as security minister to focus on his campaign. He is also a former Minister of Defense, Minister of Justice and Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court.

ANIES BASWEDAN

Anies Baswedan, a former head of an Islamic university, served as governor of Jakarta until last year after winning a controversial 2017 election against an ethnic Chinese Christian incumbent supported by Widodo.

Baswedan, a former Fulbright scholar, had served as education and culture minister from 2014 to 2016, when Widodo dismissed him from the government.

Supported by conservative Muslim groups, he incited hundreds of thousands of people to take to the streets in 2016 against the Christian governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who was later jailed for blasphemy after quoting the Quran in a speech. Baswedan was seen as using the controversy to successfully run for governor.

His use of religious identity politics in the 2017 election alienated him from moderate Muslims. His choice of Muhaimin Iskandar as his running mate in Wednesday's election is seen as an attempt to win back that support.

The Islam-based National Awakening Party has close ties to Indonesia's largest Islamic organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, which has more than 45 million members.

Baswedan opposes Widodo's signed plan to move Indonesia's capital from Jakarta to Nusantara on the island of Borneo, about 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) away, which involves the construction of government buildings and housing from from zero.

He said in a meeting Last month, the Associated Press said democracy in Indonesia was in decline, referring to Subianto's choice of Widodo's son as his vice presidential candidate, and pledged to get it back on track.

It means there is a decline in trust, it means our democracy is experiencing a decline in quality, it means many legal rules are being circumvented, he said.

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