Once a ‘nobody’, Jokowi’s son set to become Indonesia’s VP


Jakarta, Feb 26 (AFP/APP):By his own admission, Gibran Rakabuming Raka was a "nobody" a few months before Indonesia's elections.
              Now, the eldest son of President Joko Widodo looks set to become the country's youngest-ever vice president.
              Gibran's meteoric rise to running mate of president-in-waiting Prabowo Subianto, who declared victory last week, was fuelled by his father's wild popularity.
              "Three months ago I was a nobody. I thank Sir Prabowo who has given room for young people like me," Gibran, 36, told a packed arena in the capital Jakarta after polls closed on February 14.
              "I believe these high figures were because of the young people."
              Official results show Defence Minister Prabowo's ticket winning a majority with more than two-thirds of votes counted. The final result is due next month.
              Gibran's success in the polls has raised questions over the influence of Jokowi, as the president is popularly known, with critics accusing him of seeking to install a political dynasty before he leaves office.
              Growing up Gibran was set to follow in his father's furniture salesman footsteps after studying in Singapore and Australia, but he moved into catering and created a business selling traditional Indonesian dishes. 
              He first stepped into politics while his father was serving as president in 2021, winning the mayorship of Central Java's Surakarta city -- Jokowi's old job.
              Gibran ran on behalf of his father's ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) but later turned his back on it to run with Prabowo, an ex-general accused of atrocities under the rule of dictator Suharto in the late 1990s.
              Jokowi, barred from a third term, leaves office in October, but the idea of another Widodo carrying on his policies has broad appeal in the country. 
              Indonesia enjoyed steady growth over his two terms and Jokowi is enjoying near-record approval ratings, so his tacit support strapped an election rocket to the Prabowo-Gibran ticket.
              "When people see Gibran, they will see Jokowi," said Ujang Komarudin, a political analyst from Jakarta-based Al Azhar University.
              But "the big, strategic matters will be determined by Prabowo," he added.