JAKARTA: Speculation is rife in Indonesia after President Joko Widodo appeared to have suggested that Mr Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno, a vice-presidential hopeful in the 2019 election, would “very likely” become his successor.
The Indonesian leader appeared to have made the remarks in jest when speaking at the inauguration of the new leadership of the Association of Young Indonesian Businesspeople (HIPMI) in Jakarta on Wednesday (Jan 15).
“(HIPMI) chief patron (Bahlil Lahadalia) said earlier that a candidate for 2024 is present, a candidate who will very likely succeed me," he was quoted as saying by the Jakarta Post.
“And I believe that is true,” he added, as the audience erupted in cheers.
“I won’t specify who, but he stood up just now,” Mr Widodo said, referring to Mr Uno.
Mr Uno, 51, was the running mate of Mr Prabowo Subianto seeking to unseat Mr Widodo in the April presidential election last year.
A businessman and former Jakarta deputy governor, Mr Uno is one of the richest people in Indonesia. He was also formerly HIPMI chairman.
On Wednesday, Mr Widodo began his speech by saying that he could not name all the senior HIPMI members and former chairmen. He only remembered one name, he said, “Bapak Sandiaga Uno,” to which Mr Uno responded by standing up briefly.
“Beware of 2024,” Mr Widodo added.
Mr Uno has uploaded a video clip of attending the event on his Facebook page. The president’s remarks was included in the short clip.
Responding to Mr Widodo's comments, Mr Uno said: “Maybe the president was joking.”
“Or maybe he just wanted to encourage me. He is a good man,” he was quoted as saying by news outlet Kompas.