Defense Chief Linked To Unspeakable Atrocities Elected President

Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto appears to have won the country’s presidential election, an outcome some human rights groups believe could undermine Indonesia’s fledgling democracy, the Associated Press reported.

A close ally of Indonesia’s popular outgoing president Joko Widodo, Subianto billed himself as the heir to Wibodo’s agenda, vowing to continue the outgoing president’s modernization agenda.

However, Subianto would take office with questions hanging over him about his history of human rights abuses, including allegations of torture and disappearances, during the final years of Indonesian dictator Suharto’s regime.

The 72-year-old former general, who has never held elected office, offered very little plans for his presidency except the promise of continuity, leaving some uncertain of what his presidency would mean for Indonesia’s 25-year-old democracy.

Subianto was a former political rival of Joko Widodo, challenging him in two presidential elections. However, in this election, Subianto glommed on to the popular president, running as his heir. He even selected Widodo’s son for his running mate, a decision that defied constitutional age limits for office and caused some activists to fear the start of a political dynasty.

The official results of the election could take weeks to be tabulated and thus far, Subianto’s two rivals have not conceded the race. However, unofficially, Subianto won more than 55 percent of the vote.

Human rights organizations have accused Subianto of participating in human rights violations in the 1980s and 1990s when Indonesia occupied Timor-Leste, allegations Subianto has denied.

Subianto was dishonorably discharged from the military in 1998 following allegations of human rights abuses when Kopassus special forces under Subianto’s command kidnapped and tortured 22 political opponents of Suharto. Of the 22 victims taken, 13 have never been found.

While several of Subianto’s men were tried and convicted of the abuses, the former commander never faced trial and denied any involvement.

If the official tally confirms Subianto’s win, he will take office in November.