Indonesia President Jokowi and runner-up Prabowo seek post-election peace - in MRT meeting

Indonesia President Jokowi and runner-up Prabowo seek post-election peace - in MRT meeting

Indonesia President Jokowi and runner-up Prabowo met at an MRT station in Jakarta
Indonesian President Joko Widodo said he initiated a meeting with his two-time presidential challenger on an MRT train because he knew Prabowo Subianto had never used the new system. (Photo: Presidential Secretariat Press Bureau)

JAKARTA: Indonesian President Joko Widodo and his former challenger, Prabowo Subianto, called for reconciliation on Saturday (Jul 13), in their first meeting since the country's divisive presidential election.

It comes two weeks after Prabowo lost a court challenge to overturn Widodo's victory in the April election.

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Widodo, also known as Jokowi, had beaten Prabowo for the second time, in what was a bitter fight for the top job.

On Saturday, the former general and the country's re-elected leader rode the newly inaugurated mass rapid transit (MRT) system together in Jakarta.

Leaving their differences on the election battlefield, the pair chatted privately in a closed car on a train.

They also spoke to other passengers and the media.

Indonesia President Jokowi and runner-up Prabowo seek post-election peace
Indonesian President Joko Widodo and his former challenger, Prabowo Subianto, shake hands at an MRT station in Jakarta. (Photo: Presidential Secretariat Press Bureau)

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"Some people asked why Prabowo has not congratulated Jokowi. Well, I do have manners and I wanted to congratulate him in person," Prabowo said, standing next to the president.

"Being a president is about serving people, the problems he will have to face are enormous and I am ready to help," he added.

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Widodo said he initiated a meeting with his two-time presidential challenger on an MRT train because he knew Prabowo had never used the new system.

Indonesia President Jokowi and runner-up Prabowo met at an MRT station
Indonesian President Joko Widodo and his former challenger, Prabowo Subianto, met for the first time since the country's divisive presidential election, Jul 13, 2019. (Photo: Presidential Secretariat Press Bureau)

"I am grateful for this arrangement so I can meet Prabowo Subianto, I hope our supporters will follow suit because we are all fellow countrymen," the 58-year-old said.

"Let's unite as a nation because global competition is getting tighter and we need to stay together to develop our country," he added.

Indonesia President Jokowi and runner-up Prabowo met at a Jakarta MRT station
Indonesian President Joko Widodo and his former challenger, Prabowo Subianto, share a meal. (Photo: Presidential Secretariat Press Bureau)

The general election commission declared Widodo the winner with 55.5 per cent of votes, against Prabowo's 44.5 per cent.

In May, peaceful protests against the official result by Prabowo supporters erupted into two nights of street battles between police and rioters, leaving nine people dead and hundreds injured in the capital of the world's third-biggest democracy.

READ: Indonesian police fire tear gas to disperse protesters

The constitutional court last month rejected Prabowo's claims of widespread rigging and voter fraud. He lost a similar court battle in 2014 when Widodo won the presidential election for the first time.

Widodo and his vice-presidential running mate Ma'ruf Amin are due to be inaugurated later this year.

Additional reporting by Chandni Vatvani.

Source: AFP/CNA/aj

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