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Ex-general accused of human rights abuses claims victory in Indonesia's election

Rights groups have expressed alarm that Prabowo Subianto could roll back hard-won democratic freedoms in Indonesia.


February 15, 2024

Credits @FFHR.CZ 

Former general Prabowo Subianto claimed victory in Indonesia's presidential election on Wednesday as preliminary results put him well ahead of his two rivals to lead Southeast Asia's biggest economy.

Polls had long shown the fiery defence minister to be the favourite after he pledged to carry on the agenda of popular outgoing leader Joko Widodo, who is accused of inappropriately backing his campaign and whose son is Subianto's running mate.

Subianto is accused of rights abuses while serving as a military chief during the dying days of the Suharto dictatorship a generation ago.

Rights groups have expressed alarm that the 72-year-old could roll back hard-won democratic freedoms, pointing to accusations he ordered the abduction of democracy activists at the end of Suharto's rule.

Subianto was dismissed from the military in 1998 over the abductions. The United States for years refused him a visa over his rights record, but he denied the accusations and was never charged.

He has since rehabilitated his image, partly thanks to a savvy social media campaign targeting Indonesia's youth in which he is portrayed as a "cuddly grandpa".

Official results are not due until next month but at least four government-approved groups — making projections based on official early tallying — showed Subianto winning around 57 per cent for a clear majority.



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