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Prabowo Subianto: 'The people are fed up'

The Indonesian presidential candidate talks about his concerns, ambitions and plans for the future of his country.

Last updated: 17 Nov 2013 12:23
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Two hours away from Jakarta, in a secluded hillside estate behind armed guards, is the man who wants to be the next leader of the 250 million Indonesian people.

The former general, Prabowo Subianto, is well known here. But to many people outside this country - the fourth most populous nation in the world - he remains an enigma.

Nelson Mandela was also blacklisted from the United States at one time, am I not in good company?

Prabowo Subianto, Indonesian presidential candidate

Once the feared head of Indonesia’s notorious Special Forces, known as Kopasses, Prabowo puts those days firmly behind him. For the third time next year, he will run for the presidency on populist policies.

Surveys show that if elections were held now he would become president of Indonesia, the nation with the biggest Muslim population in the world.

Democracy in Indonesia, he says, is threatened by the country's "elite".

"Democracy in Indonesia can fail because of the weakness of our legal system, or our enforcement system, the massive cheating; it is a very sensitive period. How wise will the Indonesian elite be? Or will the Indonesian elite want to continue business as usual, continue the current state where everything is up for sale?"

Although his military career made him into the man he is today, his controversial past may also prove to be his greatest challenge.

The US government, for example, has banned him from entering the country because he is accused of overseeing the forced disappearances of activists and the torture of pro-independence fighters in East Timor.

"When you serve as a soldier in the highest echelons, you will always be subject to accusations, charges, defamation of character; that's the risk of your profession," he says.

"This is my third general election; I have been competing in politics for 15 years, in business. So every time my support goes up accusations start coming but the Indonesian people they are not that stupid, you know, that's why I am getting strong support.”

But in the rough and tumble of Indonesia politics he has also made some powerful enemies.

On this episode of Talk to Al Jazeera, we speak with Prabowo Subianto about what he wants for his country, and how he responds to allegations of wrongdoing in his past.

Talk to Al Jazeera can be seen each weekat the following times GMT: Saturday: 0430 and 1930; Sunday: 1930; Monday: 1430 .  

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