Political uproar after Sandiaga Uno accused of paying PAN & PKS IDR500 billion each to be Prabowo’s VP pick

(L-R): Former Jakarta Vice Governor Sandiaga Uno, Gerindra Chairman Prabowo Subianto, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan. Photo: @Prabowo / Instagram
(L-R): Former Jakarta Vice Governor Sandiaga Uno, Gerindra Chairman Prabowo Subianto, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan. Photo: @Prabowo / Instagram

Tomorrow is the deadline for candidates to officially register for Indonesia’s 2019 presidential election but it looks like Gerindra chairman Prabowo Subianto, likely to be President Joko Widodo’s only challenger, is facing a political crisis following an explosive allegation that Jakarta Vice Governor Sandiaga Uno paid an enormous political “dowry” to two parties close to Gerindra in order to secure the VP position on Prabowo’s ticket.

In the last few days, Sandiaga’s name came up in discussions about possible running mates for Prabowo, seemingly out of the blue. But, according to an accusation by Andi Arief, the deputy general of the Democratic Party, there is a very specific reason why Sandiaga suddenly became one of Prabowo’s possible picks.

“Sandiaga Uno paid PAN and PKS each IDR500 billion (US$35 million) to become their choice for vice president,” Andi told reporters yesterday evening as quoted by Detik.

The accusation is explosive on many levels. The Democrats, led by former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, had informally agreed to form a coalition with Gerindra to back Prabowo’s candidacy last week, with many expecting that this would lead to Prabowo naming SBY’s son, Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, as his running mate. The anger in Andi’s accusation seems to stem from the Democrats feeling betrayed that Prabowo would now choose Sandiaga over AHY due to money matters (Gerindra is rumored to have serious money problems after Prabowo’s wealthy brother, Hashim Djojohadikusumo, refused to finance another campaign with little chance of success).

Prabowo turned out to be cardboard, tonight we refused him coming to (the residence of SBY in Kuningan). Even if he tried to explain it through a letter it is no longer needed. Prabowo is more concerned with money than struggle. He’s a cardboard general.

Prabowo was indeed scheduled to have a meeting with SBY last night, but it was apparently cancelled. Instead, the two senior leaders are said to be meeting this morning to try, ostensibly to try and figure out a way to quell the chaos within their potential coalition. It should be noted that Sandiaga was spotted going to Prabowo’s Jakarta residence twice yesterday night.

The accusation that Sandiaga had paid the huge political “dowry” (a fairly common means of securing political patronage in Indonesia, though one that is technically illegal) to PAN and PKS was fiercely denied by senior members of both parties. Officials from the two parties, both of which have been long time supporters of Gerindra, also implied they would walk away from the coalition should AHY be made Prabowo’s running mate now.

But Andi stood by his statements, saying that he has a proven record of always telling the truth in his political career. However, he said that he would wait for the results of today’s meeting between the two party heads before saying more.

Neither Prabowo, SBY nor Sandiaga have made any statements to the media regarding the explosive allegations but the picture will likely become clearer after today’s meeting. Much rides on whatever decisions are made, but it seems likely that Prabowo’s coalition will contain either the Democrats or PAN and PKS, because the likelihood of all three parties sticking with Gerindra following this scandal is unlikely. That’s assuming there is any coalition left standing at all come tomorrow’s registration deadline.

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