- Prabowo Subianto is referred to as ‘gemes’ by younger Indonesian generations
A murderous hardline general who was banned from the US and other countries for human rights abuses could become the next president of Indonesia.
Prabowo Subianto, 72, was one of the most feared and hated men in the country 25 years ago.
He was the son-in-law of the late dictator Suharto and has been accused of ordering the abduction, torture and killing of democracy activists.
But now he has transformed his public image as a cute dancing grandad in widely circulated social media videos.
Prabowo Subianto, 72, was one of the most feared and hated men in the country 25 years ago
He has been referred to as ‘gemes’ by younger generations, who are largely unfamiliar with his history
Presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, left, and his running mate Gibran Rakabuming Raka
The general has transformed his public image as a cute dancing grandad in widely circulated social media videos
The videos show him performing comically bad dad-dancing and have gone viral in Indonesia.
As part of his campaign, he has also put up large billboards depicting him as a smiling cartoon character.
He has been referred to as ‘gemes’ by younger generations, who are largely unfamiliar with his history.
It is an Indonesian slang term that translates to ‘adorable’, The Times reported.
The polls show he is ahead of his two rivals in the campaign to replace President Joko next year.
Prabowo was an Indonesian special forces general in the 1990s, running a regime of terror in East Timor – torturing and killing independence fighters.
He also kidnapped human rights activists, several of whom have never been seen since, and he was banned from several countries including the US and Australia.
After being a fierce political rival of Joko, he became the defence minister in 2019.
The social media videos have gone viral in Indonesia and may help him win the presidency
Prabowo was an Indonesian special forces general in the 1990s, running a regime of terror in East Timor
It was a strategic move intended to secure Joko’s government in his second term.
Prabowo’s running mate is Gibran Rakabuming Raka, the son of President Joko.
Gibran, 36, was younger than the minimum legal age to run for vice-president but Indonesia’s constitutional court changed the law to make it possible. Also, the chief justice in the court was Joko’s brother-in-law.
With the announcement of Gibran as Prabowo’s running mate, critics accused Joko of betraying his party.
Joko is from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle and Ganjar Pranowo, 55, is the candidate for the February 2024 elections.
But Ganjar is lagging in second place behind Prabowo and his Gerindra party.
The third candidate is Anies Baswedan, 54, the former governor of Jakarta, who has support from conservative Muslim voters.
Voters go to the polls on February 14, 2024.