Former General with Human Rights Concerns, Prabowo Subianto Claims Victory in Indonesian Presidential Election

Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto has declared victory in the country’s presidential election, citing unofficial vote counts that show a substantial lead over his rivals. The 72-year-old former general, previously banned from the United States over human rights concerns, proclaimed his win as “the victory of all Indonesians.” Unofficial results suggest Subianto has secured more than 50% of the vote, surpassing the threshold to avoid a runoff.

Subianto, with a military background linked to alleged human rights abuses during Indonesia’s occupation of East Timor, has a controversial history. Accusations of torture, disappearances, and rights violations have shadowed his career. Despite losing in the 2014 and 2019 elections, he contested the results and, in 2019, urged supporters onto the streets, resulting in riots that claimed six lives.

In this election, Subianto secured the support of outgoing President Joko Widodo’s son, Gibran Rakanuming Raka, as his running mate. The quick count results from independent pollsters indicate Subianto’s victory, with more than 95% of the vote unofficially counted. While Subianto urges patience for the official count, opponents raise concerns about the legitimacy of the results, hinting at potential electoral violations.

Prabowo’s victory prompts fears of a return to Indonesia’s authoritarian past, given his military background and alleged human rights abuses. The international community has voiced concerns over the potential impact of Subianto’s leadership, with activists warning of a dark chapter in Indonesia’s history and the risk of diminished accountability for past atrocities.

Despite his controversial past, Subianto plans to continue the legacy of his predecessor, including the ambitious project of building a new capital city in Borneo. He also aims to attract more investment, particularly from China, and increase military funding. The predicted win raises questions about Indonesia’s commitment to democratic values, as Subianto’s nationalist stance and military history fuel concerns about potential authoritarian tendencies.

Observers speculate on potential shifts in Indonesia’s foreign policy under Subianto’s leadership. As the current defense minister, he has pledged funding increases for the military, emphasizing the need for a strong defense force. Subianto’s victory could bring more attention to foreign policy matters, unlike his predecessor Joko Widodo, whose focus was primarily on domestic issues.

While Subianto’s win is seen by supporters as a continuation of his predecessor’s programs, critics highlight the need for vigilance in safeguarding democratic principles. The election results are met with skepticism by some opponents, who question the legitimacy of the outcome, emphasizing the importance of respecting the people’s decision.

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