Indonesia’s defeated presidential candidate and the victor Joko Widodo have met for the first time since the bitterly contested polls, in a sign that political tensions in the Southeast Asian nation might be thawing.
Prabowo Subianto congratulated Widodo on his victory live on television and promised to support his government as long as his policies are in line “in the interests of the nation and people.”
Until the meeting Friday at the home of Prabowo’s father, the wealthy Suharto-ere general had refused to concede defeat and had challenged the election results in the courts.
Mr. Widodo initiated the meeting and the two spoke for about 30 minutes. Mr. Subianto, who has remained out of the public eye for more than a month, said he was certain that Mr. Widodo was “a patriot” and that both men wanted the same thing, “a united Indonesia.”
Mr. Subianto said he still planned to keep a close eye on the next government and criticize any problems.
He heads a coalition that controls the largest block of legislators in the parliament. That has raised concerns Jokowi might be obstructed in his legislative agenda or even face impeachment.
“I have told my supporters that in political battles, harsh rhetoric is common,” he said. But differences in political opinion “cannot and should not be the reason for divisions in people.”
Mr. Widodo agreed that he and Mr. Subianto shared the same aims. He said he also understood but that the role of his political opponents was “to monitor and supervise.”
Today is Mr. Subianto’s 63rd birthday and the former general said he wanted Mr. Widodo to come to his residence and sing to him. Mr. Widodo said he would try his best to visit Mr. Subianto’s home in the future. “But I have told Prabowo that I cannot sing,” he added.
Jokowi will be inaugurated president on Monday.