Indonesians flock to stadiums for final election rallies

Published February 11, 2024
SUPPORTERS of presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto receive free eggs after an election campaign rally, on Saturday.—AFP
SUPPORTERS of presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto receive free eggs after an election campaign rally, on Saturday.—AFP

JAKARTA: Around 100,000 people filled a Jakarta stadium on Saturday for a huge rally in support of Indonesian presidential election front runner Prabowo Subianto, just days ahead of one of the world’s biggest one-day votes.

Supporters also turned out in their tens of thousands for the final rallies of his rival candidates — former provincial governors Anies Baswedan and Ganjar Pranowo — in the battle to lead the massive.

Third-time candidate Subianto, the current defence minister, is leading Baswedan and Pranowo by double digits in polls ahead of Wednesday’s vote.

“Me, my father and mother have supported Prabowo continuously since 2014,” said Novita Agustina, a 24-year-old first-time voter who travelled four hours to see the ex-general speak.

She lauded his work as defence minister and shrugged off rights groups’ concerns about his track record, saying criticism was “just attacks from opponents... I don’t want to hear anything bad”. Others praised his tenacity in running a third time for the presidency.

The crowd at the national stadium cheered as the 72-year-old Subianto launched into a characteristically fiery address. “We will fight to bring prosperity for all people of Indonesia,” he said. “We will continue what was already being built by previous presidents.” Many Subianto supporters wore blue shirts, some emblazoned with an AI cartoon image of his face that has become synonymous with his campaign.

Subianto has campaigned on a pledge to eradicate extreme poverty, provide free school meals to children and milk to pregnant women, and continue President Joko Widodo’s development drive.

Published in Dawn, February 11th, 2024

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