Jakarta. Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto has reclaimed his chair at the top of the Great Indonesia Movement Party, or Gerinda, in the party's extraordinary congress on Saturday.
Hundreds of congress participants elected Prabowo, who also a former army general and perennial presidential candidate, by acclamation to lead the second-largest political party in Indonesia for the next five years.
"The leadership vacuum of the party would only last for two minutes," Ahmad Muzani, the chairman of Gerindra's extraordinary congress, said before knocking the gavel to officiate the congress' decision.
Most political pundits expected Prabowo would remain in control of the party that he founded in 2008, to momentum for his presidential bid in 2024.
Prabowo, who would be 73 years old by then, currently leads in many polls with a close margin over closest rivals, Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo and Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan. The law forbids the current sitting president Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, who beat Prabowo in the last two elections, from running again in 2024.
A survey in July from pollster Charta Politica put Prabowo win the lead with 17.5 percent estimated votes, above Ganjar, who got 15.9 percent, and Anies, 15 percent.
Prabowo's lead, however, still within the poll's 2.2 percent margin of error. Also, his electability has declined from 22 percent in May, as the public attention shifted to public figures who perform well in handling the Covid-19 pandemic, Charta Politica poll showed.
Today, Prabowo also seemed to rekindle a warm relationship Megawati Soekarnoputri, the matriarch of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), with whom he ran in the 2009 presidential election.
Megawati gave a virtual speech at the Gerindra's congress on Saturday, saying she believed the party would continue to promote patriotism and stand by the state ideology, Pancasila. Megawati said she hoped Gerindra would contribute answers for challenges that Indonesia faces today.
"Everything is for Indonesia to become more sovereign, more self-reliant, and showing a national character that is more Indonesian," Megawati said.
Jokowi also gave his speech at the Gerindra congress as he usually does for political parties in his coalition. In his speech, Jokowi reminded the congress participant to be vigilant in handling the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said he had assigned Prabowo with a task to strengthen the national strategic food reserves after the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) warned that the pandemic might result in a global food crisis.
Specifically, Jokowi said he had asked Prabowo to oversee the development of a food estate in Central Kalimantan. "I have the belief that we have a solid foundation to be independent, to stand on our own feet," Jokowi said.
Prabowo, in his speech, said he was grateful for the support and confidence in him to lead the party.
However, according to Muzani, Prabowo resisted the congress' urge to declare him as the party's sole presidential candidate for 2024.
"Mr. Prabowo told the congress that [his candidacy] would be decided in one, or one and a half year before the election," Muzani told Kompas news website.