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Prabowo's Presidential Club initiative could bridge gap between SBY and Megawati

Jakarta Globe - May 6, 2024

Whisnu Bagus Prasetyo, Jakarta – The idea of establishing a presidential club by President-elect Prabowo Subianto is seen as a positive step in facilitating regular discussions among former Indonesian presidents on strategic national issues.

The presidential club is deemed essential, especially given the complex relationship between two former presidents, Megawati Soekarnoputri and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY), over the past two decades.

"Prabowo wants to act as a bridge, a unifying force among former presidents who are not on close terms. This is part of Prabowo's respect for the former presidents," Ujang Komarudin, Executive of the Indonesia Political Review, told Beritasatu.com, the Jakarta Globe's sister publication, on Monday.

SBY and Megawati have had a less harmonious relationship with ups and downs. Their political rivalry often peaked before elections, such as during the 2004 Presidential Election, which strained their relationship. Since then, they have competed politically through their respective parties.

The conflict between Megawati and SBY can be traced back to the incident known as the July 27th Riot (Kuda Tuli). At that time, the Indonesian Democratic Party – which was then still called PDI – became the target of riots instigated by opposing party elements. Even the PDI's Central Executive Board office was targeted by the rioting masses.

SBY was accused of involvement in the incident, creating bitter memories for PDI cadres, who eventually transformed into the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).

Nevertheless, Megawati, who served as president from 2001 to 2004, appointed SBY as the Chief Security Affairs Minister. This decision was questioned by some PDIP cadres.

SBY was later recorded as the first democratically elected president by the people and served as the sixth President of Indonesia after being inaugurated on October 20, 2004, alongside Vice President Jusuf Kalla. He won against Megawati-Hasyim Muzadi in the 2004 election.

This conflict not only affected their political careers but also the relationship between the parties they led. Despite being involved in intense political competition, both SBY and Megawati did not bring the conflict into their personal lives. This was evident when Megawati expressed her support and condolences to SBY when his beloved wife, Ani Yudhoyono, passed away in 2019.

Prabowo Subianto's spokesperson, Dahnil Anzar, revealed plans to establish a Presidential Club as a platform for Prabowo-Gibran to seek advice from former presidents. This initiative is aimed at preserving national unity and demonstrating to the public that leaders can come together and discuss issues despite political differences.

By the time Prabowo takes office on October 20, Indonesia will have three living former presidents, including Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, SBY, and Megawati.

Habiburokhman, deputy chairman of Prabowo's Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), suggested that Prabowo Subianto could facilitate reconciliation between Jokowi and Megawati.

Jokowi has distanced himself from the PDI-P since his son, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, joined Prabowo as a running mate in the February election. The PDI-P nominated a different candidate and initially expected full support from both Jokowi and Gibran, who had previously won elected public offices with the party's nomination.

Several PDI-P elites have confirmed that Jokowi and Gibran are no longer affiliated with the party, suggesting a potential opposition role in Prabowo's future government.

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/news/prabowos-presidential-club-initiative-could-bridge-gap-between-sby-and-megawat