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Prabowo named as Gerindra's presidential candidate for 2019 Indonesian elections

Straits Times - April 11, 2018

Francis Chan Indonesia's largest opposition party Gerindra on Wednesday (April 11) officially declared former army general Prabowo Subianto as its candidate for the 2019 presidential polls.

This was confirmed by party secretary-general Ahmad Muzani during a national coordination meeting being held in Hambalang, West Java.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the meeting, Mr Muzani said leaders of Gerindra, which is short for the Great Indonesia Movement, have made their decision to nominate Mr Prabowo for the upcoming polls, which opens for registration in August.

Breaking news reports also quoted Mr Prabowo, 66, saying he was "ready to carry out the mandate of the cadre".

"With all my energy, with all my soul and body, if the Gerindra Party ordered me to advance on the upcoming presidential election, I'm ready to carry out the task," Mr Prabowo said, according to local media reports.

For the first time, the nationwide vote on April 17 next year will see Indonesians heading to the polls to choose their president as well as their MPs on the same day.

Mr Prabowo's candidacy was widely anticipated although the former Indonesian special forces commander seems to be dragging his feet over the nomination, even saying there will be no such declaration at the April 11 meeting.

But headlines such as "Finally, Prabowo ready to be president", and "It's Official, Prabowo is Gerindra's candidate for the presidency", started to hog the headlines by Wednesday afternoon.

This latest decision by Gerindra means President Joko Widodo's bid for re-election next year would see a repeat of his 2014 battle with Mr Prabowo.

It should also end speculation that the opposition chief may not be running after the news of his nomination took longer than expected, while there were also questions on whether Mr Prabowo had the sufficient support for another long and expensive national campaign.

Mr Prabowo was the vice-presidential running mate to former president Ms Megawati in 2009. He has built up a base among voters who see him as a firm, decisive leader, his human rights record notwithstanding.

Mr Prabowo has also been touted as a kingmaker in Indonesian politics, having backed the winning pairing of Anies Baswedan and Sandiaga Uno, who beat the popular Basuki Tjahaja Purnama at last year's gubernatorial elections in Jakarta.

Source: http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/prabowo-named-as-gerindras-presidential-candidate-for-2019-indonesian-elections.

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