Opposition leader Prabowo Subianto held a closed-door meeting with Luhut Pandjaitan, a key figure in the President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo administration, at a hotel in Central Jakarta on Friday, a Prabowo’s aide has said.
Gerindra Party deputy secretary-general Andre Rosiade said on Saturday that the two political figures had likely discussed the 2019 presidential election.
Prabowo, the chief patron of Gerindra, is reportedly considering whether he will challenge President Jokowi again in the upcoming election. He lost to Jokowi in the highly divisive presidential election in 2014.
The meeting has sparked speculation of possible efforts by Jokowi’s inner circle to bring Prabowo into Jokowi’s camp. As of today, the former Army’s Special Forces (Kopassus) commander has yet to officially declare his candidacy, while a new figure, former Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Gatot Nurmantyo, has emerged as one of the strongest challengers for Jokowi.
The General Elections Commission (KPU) will open registration for presidential candidates in August.
Andre, however, was quick to dismiss such speculation, saying the party was committed to nominating Prabowo as its presidential candidate again. “That was just a friendly meeting between two old friends.”
A number of Gerindra executives had announced the party would declare Prabowo’s presidential candidacy during its national coordination meeting slated for April 11. However, Prabowo said on Thursday that there would be no declaration of his candidacy during the meeting as the party had yet to form a firm alliance.
With only 73 seats at the House of Representatives, Gerindra would have to form an alliance to field a candidate in a presidential election as stipulated by the 2017 Election Law.
Several politicians, including House Speaker Bambang Soesatyo, have hinted at the possibility of pairing Jokowi with Prabowo in the 2019 presidential election to prevent political polarization in 2019.
However, Gerindra officials have rejected such a proposal.
Gerindra’s central executive board chairman, Sufmi Dasco Ahmad, also played down the political significance of Friday’s meeting between Prabowo and Luhut, saying such a meeting was not unusual. “Both of them are former generals and former business partners.”