Indonesia leader meets defeated rival after divisive poll

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia's president and his defeated election rival met Saturday for the first time since the divisive April poll and rode together on a recently opened subway in the capital, signaling a calming of political tensions in the world's third-largest democracy.

In a choreographed spectacle, President Joko Widodo and former special forces general Prabowo Subianto met and embraced at a gleaming new subway station in Jakarta and sat together chatting on a short train trip.

Subianto had refused to accept the election result and threatened a "people power" uprising. He alleged massive and systematic fraud, but his legal challenge was rejected by the country's top court last month, reflecting its weak evidence.

Nine people died in riots in Jakarta in May after official results were released, showing Widodo had won 55.5% of the vote.

Widodo, the first Indonesian president from outside the Jakarta elite, said Indonesians should unite after the bitter election campaign.

"Global competition and competition between countries is getting tougher so we need togetherness in advancing this nation, in building this country that we love," he said.

"Thank God this morning we can meet and try the MRT (subway), because I know Prabowo has never tried the MRT," Widodo said.

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation, is an outpost of democracy in a Southeast Asian neighborhood of authoritarian governments and is forecast to be among the world's biggest economies by 2030. Widodo's second term could further cement the country's two decades of democratization and see progress in his signature policy of upgrading the sprawling nation's inadequate infrastructure.

Subianto, who allied himself with groups that want Islamic rather than secular law to prevail in Indonesia, won big victories in conservative provinces, but Widodo prevailed nationally with the backing of mainstream Muslim organizations and minority voters.

Widodo also defeated Subianto in 2014.

Subianto congratulated Widodo on his election victory and said he would work with the government while also offering criticism "because democracy requires checks and balances."

"I thank you sir, I can ride the MRT and this is amazing, we are proud that Indonesia finally has an MRT," he said.

Related News

Official: Indonesian family that joined IS now in...

Aug 11, 2017

Indonesia's deputy foreign minister says a Jakarta family who joined the Islamic State group in...

Indonesia clinic gives relief to Muslims with...

Aug 16, 2017

A clinic in Indonesia is offering laser removal of tattoos for free, providing relief to Muslims...

Indonesia president: Spread wealth, protect...

Aug 16, 2017

Indonesia's president vows a fairer distribution of the nation's wealth and a renewed commitment to...

Myanmar faces anger from Muslim world over...

Sep 4, 2017

A Nobel laureate and Muslim nations in Asia criticized Myanmar's persecution of its Rohingya Muslim...

Indonesia raises Bali volcano alert to highest...

Sep 22, 2017

Indonesian authorities have raised the alert level for the Mount Agung volcano on the tourist...

Bali volcano eruption fears spark exodus of more...

Sep 24, 2017

More than 35,000 people have fled a menacing volcano on the Indonesian tourist island of Bali,...

Sign up now!