Jakarta. Retired general Prabowo Subianto expressed gratitude to firebrand Muslim cleric Rizieq Shihab for "saving Indonesia's democracy," after Anies Baswedan and his running mate Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno won Jakarta's gubernatorial election on Wednesday (19/04).
Several quick counts from pollsters showed a large-margin win for Anies – backed by the Prabowo-led Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) – over incumbent Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama in an election marred by religious and ethnic tensions.
In the evening after Wednesday's vote, the Anies-Sandiaga campaign team performed prayers alongside members of the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and its leader, Rizieq, at the Istiqlal Mosque in Central Jakarta.
"Rizieq and the Muslim community, just like us, have defended the interests of the Indonesian public, upheld justice and saved our democracy and our future," said Prabowo, a failed candidate in the 2014 presidential election.
Anies, a former education minister sacked by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo less than two years after taking office, called on the country's Muslim community to maintain tolerance and respect for the nation's diverse religious and ethnic groups.
"We have to show that the Muslim community is the one who upholds peace and unity," Anies said.
The FPI, notorious for vigilante acts across the archipelago, led several mass demonstrations calling for the removal of Ahok as governor in the run-up to Wednesday's election.
Its members and other hardline Muslim groups in the country claim that Ahok, currently standing trial on blasphemy charges, insulted Islam when he made a comment last year against the use of the Koran for political advantage.