Prabowo claims his checkered military carrier won't be obstacle to governance

Source – May 13, 2024
Prabowo speaking to reporters at General Elections Commission building in Jakarta – April 24, 2024 (Antara)

Aryo Putranto Saptohutomo, Jakarta – President elect Prabowo Subianto has dismissed concerns by many parties about his leadership of the next administration related to his track record while still serving in the TNI (Indonesian military).

The Defense Minister said that he suffered character assassination during the 2024 presidential election, but according to Prabowo, this is part of the process of succession.

"So, what more concerns are there? In every election, they (my competitors) have certainly looked for weaknesses (in me). Yes, I used to be general. I am proud of being a general because I served the nation. I risked my life for the people", said Prabowo in a special interview with Al Jazeera published on Sunday May 12 as quoted from

Prabowo said he had repeatedly faced accusations of alleged human rights violations in the past, especially related to the alleged abduction of pro-democracy activists in the period 1997-98.

He said that all the accusations are inappropriate and have not been proven to this day.

"I have been accused of doing many things, it's called demonisation, character assassination, which is part of politics. I faced up to all of it. These accusations were completely insulting and very wrong, but that is just part of a game", said Prabowo.

Prabowo's military career ended in May 1998 because he was implication in the alleged abduction of pro-democracy activists in 1997-98. He was subsequently transferred from the position of the commander of the Army's Strategic Reserve Command (Kostrad) with the rank of Lieutenant General to commander of the TNI Military Staff and Command School (Sesko) in Bandung, West Java.

As a consequence of his alleged involvement in the abductions, the TNI commander at that time, General Wiranto, formed the Officers' Honorary Council (DKP).

After his trial, the DKP declared Prabowo guilty of disobedience, ordering the deprivation of other people's freedom and kidnapping. As a result, the DKP declared that it had dismissed Prabowo from the military service.

After leaving the military, Prabowo then entered the world of business and politics. He joined the Golkar Party but ended up resigning and went on to form the Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), of which he is the chairperson to this day.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo awarded Prabowo the honorary rank of four-star general on February 29. Even though he no longer serves in the TNI, Prabowo now officially holds the final rank of full-general.

Subianto was officially declared the winner of the 2024 presidential election with a vote of more than 58 percent. He won against his two competitors, namely former Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan and former Central Java governor Ganjar Pranowo.

Although Prabowo's was recorded as wining the vote in 36 out of 38 provinces, his victory was challenged at the Constitutional Court. One of the issues in the lawsuit was the alleged politicisation of social assistance (bansos).

The panel of judges at the Constitutional Court however stated that they did not find enough evidence to convince them that social assistance from the government influenced voters' choices in the 2024 presidential election.


According to a document leaked in July 2014, which was a scanned copy of the official letter signed by members of the DKP tasked with hearing the case of Prabowo's complicity in the abduction of pro-democracy activists in 1997-98, the former Special Forces (Kopassus) commander was also fired from his position due to insubordination and disregard for the military code. The DKP concluded that Prabowo had disgraced and disregarded the military system and committed a criminal offense and on August 21, 1998, dismissed him from military service. A summary of the document by the Jakarta Post can be viewed at and an English translation and the images of the document can be viewed here:

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Prabowo Janji Rekam Jejak di Militer Tak Jadi Hambatan saat Memerintah".]