JAKARTA – Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo and defeated presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto shook hands and hugged each other warmly in a widely-anticipated meeting on Saturday (July 13), their first since the bitterly contested presidential election in April.
They met at Lebak Bulus MRT station in South Jakarta at around 10am and then boarded the train heading to Senayan MRT station in Central Jakarta.
During their 18-minute ride on the country's first MRT line, the two former rivals were at ease with each other and chatted privately in a closed car.
At Senayan station, where a crowd of journalists were waiting, Mr Joko made a joint statement with Mr Prabowo, a retired army general.
Mr Joko told the journalists that the meeting, which he described as “an encounter with a friend”, had been planned for a long time, but delayed because of their busy schedules.
“Alhamdulillah (thanks to God), this morning we meet and ride on the MRT because I know Pak Prabowo has not tried it,” he said.
He stressed that now that the hardly-fought election is over, supporters of both camps should unite for the sake of national interests.
“There are no more cebong (tadpoles) and kampret (little bats). There’s only (the national emblem) Garuda Pancasila,” he said, referring to his and Mr Prabowo’s supporters respectively.
“Let’s weave our national unity because the global competition and rivalry among countries are becoming increasingly tighter so that we need the unity to build this country and make it move forward,” he added.
When Mr Prabowo took his turn, he explained why he has yet to congratulate the President on his victory, saying he believes in good manners.
“I want to do it directly. So I congratulate you, Pak,” he said as he shook Mr Joko’s hands.
He stressed that both men are friends but competed with each other due to the “demands of politics and democracy”.
Cracking a joke that Mr Joko would soon have more grey hair, given the heavy tasks ahead, he added: “We are ready to help if needed for the sake of the people’s interests.”
In remarks aimed at addressing his own supporters, Mr Prabowo said all is “red and white” – the colours of the national flag – meaning that both sides should work together.
After addressing the media, the two men adjourned for lunch at a satay restaurant nearby.
Mr Joko was accompanied by his campaign team chief Erick Thohir, Cabinet secretary Pramono Anung and Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi, among others.
Mr Prabowo turned up with the secretary-general of his Gerindra party Ahmad Muzani and politician Edhy Prabowo.
On Saturday afternoon, Mr Sandiaga Uno, who was Mr Prabowo’s running mate, and Mr Thohir are scheduled to talk at an event on future leadership titled “Young Penting Indonesia” in South Jakarta.