Published on 9th September 2016 by

Showdown: The head-to-head election race that’s dividing Indonesia.

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The Former Special Forces Agent Running for President

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Indonesia is in the grip of election fever. But if the front-runner represents a way out of the mire of corruption that characterises politics here, the other candidate is a potent symbol of the old. And he’s closing the gap.

“Jokowi is a breath of fresh air”, says Meidyatama Suryodiningrat. “I think the main thing that he does offer is hope – for a clean and better governance.” The man in question is Joko Widodo. He’s seen as a cleanskin in a dirty-dealing business, with a no-nonsense, lead-by-example approach. And if the polls are to be believed, he could soon be president of this vast and chaotic country. But in spite of his popularity, outside a policy debate in Jakarta, his supporters are drowned out by a vocal oppostion. “The eagle is in my heart”, the crowd chant. “Prabowo is my president. I am convinced today we’ll win for sure!” The man they’re cheering, Prabowo Subianto, is a divisive figure to say the least. A former general and commander of the notorious special forces under the Suharto regime, he is linked to murder, torture and kidnap. But with questions being raised over the track records of a number in Widodo’s own entourage, the choice may not be as clear-cut as it seems.

SBS Dateline – Ref 6181

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