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Indonesia's defence minister Prabowo declares intention to run again in 2024 presidential race

Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto has run for president twice but lost to Joko Widodo both times. For the next election, he is among the favourites to prevail, according to pollsters.

Indonesia's defence minister Prabowo declares intention to run again in 2024 presidential race

Indonesia's Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto speaks at a plenary session during the 19th International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore on Jun 11, 2022. (AP Photo/Danial Hakim)

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s Defence Minister and head of Gerindra Party Prabowo Subianto on Friday (Aug 12) declared his intention to run as president in the 2024 election.

Mr Subianto is the first politician to confirm his candidacy for the upcoming contest.

He made the announcement during his party’s national leadership meeting at Sentul International Convention Center in Bogor, West Java, where party members expressed their desire for Mr Subianto to run again.  

The minister said that he had studied and listened carefully to his party members who wish that he accepts their nomination as president of the Republic of Indonesia in 2024. 

"I hereby declare with full responsibility that I accept your request to be willing to be nominated as a candidate for president of the Republic of Indonesia,” said Mr Subianto.

Thus, I declare that tonight I am ready to continue to fight for my beloved nation and people. All my soul and spirit I dedicate to our motherland,” Mr Subianto said to the cheering crowd. 

Following Mr Subianto's acceptance speech, Gerindra leadership congress declared that he will be the party's sole candidate for the presidential race.  

In his speech, Mr Subianto said that he will never give up fighting for his country. 

“As long as I am still breathing…, given the strength, I will continue to fight for my people. For my nation to achieve what has been pioneered by the founders of our nation,” he said. 

He also took the opportunity to explain why he intends to run again after several failures, saying that it is usual for a fighter to fall. 

“For a fighter, falling is normal…If you fall, you stand up again.”  

Mr Subianto has previously run for the presidency in 2014 and 2019, but lost to Mr Joko Widodo in both contests.

Back in 2009, he ran for vice president together with the head of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) Megawati Soekarnoputri. But they lost to Mr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Mr Boediono.

In the upcoming election, Mr Widodo will not be able to run again as the constitution only allows a politician to stay in power for two terms. His two terms will end in October 2024.

This time, Mr Subianto is among the favourites, according to pollsters. He has regularly topped the polls along with names such as governor of Central Java Ganjar Pranowo and governor of Jakarta Anies Baswedan.

In order to nominate a presidential candidate, a party must obtain at least 20 per cent of the total seats in parliament or obtain 25 per cent of votes in the previous legislative election. 

As the third biggest party in parliament, Gerindra currently holds 13.57 per cent of the seats, meaning it will need to form a coalition to meet the 20 per cent threshold.

There have been indications that Gerindra will form a coalition with Partai Kebangkitan Bangsa (PKB) soon. The latter currently holds 10.09 per cent of parliament seats.

COALITION-BUILDING INTENSIFIES 

Although the presidential election will only be on Feb 14, 2024, talk of potential nominees has intensified.

This is because political parties need to register by Aug 14 if they plan to join the contest taking place once every five years.

So far, parliament’s second biggest party Golkar has formed a coalition with Partai Amanat Nasional (PAN) and Partai Persatuan Pembangunan (PPP).

Named Koalisi Indonesia Bersatu (KIB), they hold 25.73 per cent of the parliament seats.

But the coalition has yet to name a preferred presidential candidate. The parties are scheduled to meet this weekend for further discussions.  

Meanwhile, the country’s fourth-largest political party Nasdem has touted Mr Ganjar and Mr Baswedan as its potential presidential candidates.

However, Nasdem has yet to announce which coalition it will be under. Neither Mr Ganjar, who is with PDI-P, nor Mr Baswedan, who has no party affiliation, has accepted the nomination.

The only political party that can nominate a presidential candidate without forming a coalition is ruling party PDI-P, which has 22.26 per cent of the seats in parliament.

PDI-P has yet to announce what its plans are in terms of coalition building and nominating a presidential candidate.

Once registration of the political parties closes this Sunday, the election commission (KPU) would verify which parties can take part in the election and announce them in December.

Tentatively, the presidential and vice presidential candidates will only register officially at the KPU in October next year.

In November 2023, the KPU is expected to announce the finalised list of presidential and vice presidential candidates. 

Source: CNA/ks(aw)

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