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General who has been accused of abuses is named in cabinet of Joko Widodo, against whom he ran for president

The Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, has appointed as his defence minister his former bitter election rival Prabowo Subianto an ex-army general accused of human rights abuses.

Widodo announced his cabinet line-up on Wednesday having beaten Subianto in Aprils general election. At least nine people died and more than 200 were injured due to riots in Jakarta following the fraught campaign, during which Subianto accused Widodos government of hosting a massive, systematic and fraudulent election.

News of Subiantos expected appointment has caused unrest among many Widodo supporters. Public unease over Subianto wielding power over the armed forces derives from his previous military record. A former son-in-law of the late Indonesian dictator Suharto, Subianto was accused of orchestrating the kidnapping and torture of activists ahead of anti-government demonstrations in 1998 when he was an army commander. He has never been charged in relation to the alleged incidents.

Ahead of Subiantos appointment, Usman Hamid, Amnesty Internationals Indonesia executive, said it would be a dark day for human rights in this country if he got the defence job.

The election campaign fought between Subianto and Widodo was marred by a flood of misinformation. However since the result was announced the pair have appeared together in public, with Subianto saying on Monday that his party, Gerindra, was ready to help if asked to bolster the cabinet of the presidents coalition government.

When Subiantos defence minister position was officially announced Widodo said: I believe I dont have to tell him about his job he knows more than I do.

Elsewhere in the cabinet Widodo focused on appointing professionals rather than political party members. Nadiem Makarim, co-founder of ride-hailing company Gojek, was made education and culture minister. Sri Mulyani Indrawati, the former World Bank managing director, was reappointed finance minister.

As his second term begins, Widodo, 58, faces many challenges beyond his main stated goal of improving the nations economy. This month a suspected Isis radical attacked his chief security minister and violence broke out in Papua as protestors marched against alleged abuses by officials and demanded Papuan independence.

Widodo has also faced a public backlash over a proposed draconian penal code amendment that would criminalise publicly criticising the Indonesian government and court system. The move has been branded undemocratic by law experts.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/23/indonesia-joko-widodo-appoints-arch-rival-as-defence-minister-prabowo-subianto