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Indonesia's Widodo awards likely successor Prabowo 4-star general rank | Political news

Indonesia's Widodo awards likely successor Prabowo 4-star general rank |  Political news


President Joko Widodo is honoring the likely election winner, but rights groups say the move embarrasses the military given its controversial past.

Outgoing Indonesian President Joko Widodo has awarded his likely successor, Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, an honorary four-star general rank.

Prabowo, who earlier this month won the country's presidential election in a landslide according to unofficial quick counts, was awarded Indonesia's second-highest military rank, usually held by a military officer in the country.

This honor is a form of appreciation, it reaffirms dedication to the people and the country. I would like to congratulate General Prabowo Subianto, Widodo, also known as Jokowi, said on Wednesday before attaching lapels with four gold stars on the 72-year-old's blazer.

The award marks the culmination of a decades-long rebranding of Prabowo, a former lieutenant general and commander of the army's special forces known as the Kopassus, which has been accused of human rights abuses including of the torture in 1998 of 22 activists who had opposed. former leader Muhammad Soeharto, Prabowo's former father-in-law.

Human rights groups have said Prabowo was involved in a series of violations in East Timor in the 1980s and 1990s, when Indonesia occupied the now-independent country.

Commenting on the award, Gufron Mabruri, executive director of Indonesian rights group Imparsial, told the Associated Press news agency: [Prabowo] Subianto, a four-star honorary title, given his military background and allegations of involvement in cases of human rights violations, will embarrass the honor and dignity of the Indonesian military.

Election in Indonesia
Prabowo Subianto (center) dances on stage during a rally with supporters in Jakarta on February 14, 2024 [File: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP]

Prabowo, who has always denied any wrongdoing, was a three-star lieutenant general before being discharged from the army in 1998.

After his release, Prabowo sought exile in Jordan, but in the decades since his return to Indonesia, he has built an influential political party and civilian career.

In 2014 and 2019, he lost several consecutive presidential bids to Widodo before being brought into the government as defense minister in 2019.

Relations between Prabowo and Widodo have strengthened significantly in recent months, especially after Widodo's son Gibran Rakabuming Raka became Prabowo's running mate.

Prabowos' electoral victory is not yet official, with initial counts showing the defense minister with 55 percent of the vote.

If the official count confirms his election, he will be inaugurated as Indonesia's next president in October.




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