Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo ignited political speculation on Wednesday after suggesting that former vice-presidential candidate Sandiaga Uno – his former rival in the 2019 presidential elections – would run for president and would “very likely” succeed him in 2024.
The president made the remark in a speech at the Association of Young Indonesian Businesspeople (Hipmi) in Jakarta that was also attended by former Hipmi chairman Sandiaga, who along with his running mate, Prabowo Subianto, faced off against Jokowi and his running mate, Ma’ruf Amin, in the bitterly fought presidential election in April last year.
“The [Hipmi] chief patron [Bahlil Lahadalia] said earlier that a candidate for 2024 is present, a candidate who will very likely succeed me. I believe that is true, but I won’t mention specifically who it is, but he just stood up [after being addressed] earlier,” the president said, referring to Sandiaga.
“Be careful of 2024,” he quipped.
At the beginning of his speech, Jokowi said he could not name all the senior Hipmi members and former chairmen, adding that he only remembered “one name, Bapak Sandiaga Uno”. The former Jakarta deputy governor then stood up and was applauded by the organisation members.
In response to Jokowi’s remark, Sandiaga said as quoted by kompas.com: “Maybe the president was joking, or maybe he just wanted to encourage me. He’s a good man.”
The Gerindra Party politician added that anyone who wanted to run for the presidential post in 2024 should show their real work starting from now. When asked about the possibility of him running for president in 2024, he only said he would continue to fight, as a fighting spirit inspired every breath he took.
Jokowi, who is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term, rarely talks about 2024, let alone his potential successor.
His remark came amid speculation that the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, of which the president is a member, and Gerindra would join hands in the 2024 election following a series of meetings involving leaders of both parties last year.
Neither party has yet named a potential presidential nominee. However, Puan Maharani, the current House of Representatives speaker and the daughter of party leader Megawati Soekarnoputri, has been tapped as a potential nominee.
Meanwhile, Gerindra has not ruled out the possibility of nominating Prabowo again.
Other than Sandiaga, a number of regional heads such as Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan, Central Java governor Ganjar Pranowo and West Java governor Ridwan Kamil have also been tipped as strong contenders in 2024.