Indonesia's PAN party appears to distance itself from Prabowo

Mr Zulkifli Hasan, PAN's chairman, says all parties should accept the winner of last month's Indonesian presidential election.
Mr Zulkifli Hasan, PAN's chairman, says all parties should accept the winner of last month's Indonesian presidential election. PHOTO: ZULKIFLI HASAN/FACEBOOK

JAKARTA • The chairman of Indonesia's opposition National Mandate Party (PAN), Mr Zulkifli Hasan, appears to have broken ranks with his ally, presidential contender Prabowo Subianto.

Mr Zulkifli said last Friday that all parties need to reconcile and accept the winner of last month's presidential election, after meeting President Joko Widodo and a number of state officials.

"No matter who is elected (as president) we have to get together to ensure that his programmes are successful," Mr Zulkifli said in his speech at a breaking-of-fast function at his residence that was attended by Mr Joko.

Mr Zulkifli added that political parties could again contest in 2024, referring to the next presidential election.

His stance contrasts with Mr Prabowo's, who claimed that he had won the April 17 presidential election, and that massive voting fraud took place, putting Mr Joko ahead in the ongoing count by the General Elections Commission (KPU).

The PAN chairman said he would not overrule the KPU and called for all parties to wait for the announcement of the official results, which are expected by May 22.

His remarks have added to speculation that his party and another opposition party, the Democratic Party led by former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, might break away from the Prabowo camp, and join Mr Joko's ruling coalition.

Mr Susilo's son, Mr Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, on May 2 met Mr Joko, and said everyone must wait for KPU's announcement of the results before taking any action.

Mr Agus, the leader-in-waiting in the Democratic Party, met Mr Joko at the presidential palace, but had brushed off speculation over the meeting by saying it was merely a courtesy call on the President.

The Joko-Agus dinner was also attended by Democratic Party executive Agus Hermanto, who is the House of Representatives deputy speaker, alongside House Speaker Bambang Soesatyo and Vice-President Jusuf Kalla.

Interim results of legislative polls, also held on April 17, indicate that members of Mr Joko's coalition are set to occupy more than 65 per cent of the seats in Parliament.

A back-of-the-envelope calculation shows that this could possibly rise to 80 per cent if the Democrats and PAN switch sides.

The move by Mr Zulkifli to break fast with President Joko came as Mr Prabowo's supporters pressed ahead on Friday with a rally accusing Mr Joko's camp of election fraud after quick-count results put the incumbent on course for victory.

The rally, which they described as "people power", came about after the supporters reported data entry errors on Situng, the KPU vote tally website, which they claimed to be evidence of election fraud, to the Elections Supervisory Agency.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 12, 2019, with the headline Indonesia's PAN party appears to distance itself from Prabowo. Subscribe