JAKARTA, Indonesia — Prabowo Subianto, a former Indonesian general with a checkered human rights record, announced Wednesday that he'll run for president in an election due next year, confirming an establishment challenger to current President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.
The nationalist politician made the announcement at his expansive residence in Bogor in West Java. It will be his second attempt at the presidency of the world's largest Muslim-majority nation after being defeated by Jokowi, a maverick candidate, in 2014.
Subianto heads the opposition Great Indonesia Movement Party, known by its Indonesian acronym Gerindra, and is likely to win support from Islamic parties.
Jokowi was the first Indonesian from outside the country's political and military elite to win the presidency. The 2014 campaign was marred by dirty campaigning and wild internet rumors that Jokowi was a secret communist, an accusation often used in Indonesia to discredit or intimidate political opponents.
Gerindra's secretary-general, Ahmad Muzani, said a meeting of more than 3,500 party officials and cadres had officially given a mandate to Subianto to run for the presidency in 2019.
"With all my energy, with all my soul and body, if the Gerindra Party orders me to run for the upcoming presidential election, I am ready to carry out the task," Subianto said, according to TVOne.
A longtime commander in Indonesia's "Kopassus" special forces, Subianto was discharged from the military in 1998 after Kopassus soldiers tortured activists who opposed Indonesian dictator Suharto. Human rights groups allege he led a 1983 massacre in East Timor in which more than 300 people were killed.