The opening of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle’s (PDI-P) fifth national congress on Thursday was another moment that might have been unthinkable for many Indonesians just months ago, during the politically divisive 2019 presidential election.
PDI-P chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri and President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo welcomed with warm greetings the ruling camp’s erstwhile opponent, Gerindra Party patron Prabowo Subianto, who attended the opening ceremony of the congress held in Bali.
In her speech, Megawati thanked Prabowo for taking the time to attend the event, which also saw the appearance of executives of other political parties, Jokowi’s Cabinet members as well as vice president-elect Ma’ruf Amin, who sat next to the retired army general in the front row.
The PDI-P matron said she had invited the Gerindra chairman to the congress during their highly publicized meeting over Megawati’s homemade nasi goreng (fried rice) at her residence in Central Jakarta on July 24.
“At that time I invited [Prabowo] to come to the PDI-P congress,” Megawati said. “I told him that it’s alright if he cannot come. It turns out he accepted the invitation.”
Her statement was met with laughter from the audience, including from Prabowo and Jokowi.
“Aren’t we all tired of fighting? Let’s save the fight for later in 2024,” Megawati went on, referring to the next presidential election.
In April’s presidential race, Prabowo stood in polar opposites to Jokowi and the PDI-P, as the former general challenged the incumbent’s reelection bid in an election that caused deep division between supporters of each camp.
The congress came on the heels of Gerindra’s efforts to cozy up to the ruling coalition as the Prabowo-led party’s executives have hinted that they remained upbeat about joining the government.
While most members of the ruling coalition have expressed reluctance to embrace Gerindra, executives of the PDI-P, including Megawati herself, appeared to open the door, but remain indecisive to date.
Thursday was also the second time for Jokowi and Prabowo to appear together in a public event following their landmark meeting after the April election at the Lebak Bulus MRT station in South Jakarta, where the two rode the train and had lunch together afterwards.
In his speech following Megawati’s, Jokowi called Prabowo “my dear friend” when he addressed the political bigwigs and high-ranking figures in attendance.
“Don’t repeatedly ask for me to mention Pak Prabowo, I surely remember that,” Jokowi joked. (dpk/afr)