Indonesian president brushes off talk of political dynasty

JAKARTA (Reuters) -Indonesia’s outgoing president, Joko Widodo, on Friday brushed off a question about growing criticism that he is building a political dynasty as the end of his term draws near, saying the choice of leader should be left to the people.

Jokowi, as the president is popularly known, will complete his second and final term in October next year, but the securing by his relatives of various political posts as a Feb. 14 election draws closer has raised eyebrows in a country that broke free of authoritarian rule 25 years ago.

When asked about his thoughts on dynastic politics, Jokowi told reporters: “Just leave it to the people”.

He did not elaborate.

His youngest son, Kaesang Pangarep, was last month named leader of a youth party, the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI), just days after joining, while his son-in-law is mayor of the city of Medan.

His eldest son, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, who is mayor of the city of Solo, and has been touted as a vice presidential candidate for a strong contender to become the next president, former special forces commander Prabowo Subianto.

PSI made Kaesang its chair based on the support of its members, said party official Sigit Widodo, denying the nomination was related to any effort to build a dynasty.

Indonesia has a record of powerful political families.

During the 32-year rule of strongman President Suharto, his eldest daughter served as a cabinet minister.

The daughter of Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno, Megawati Sukarnoputri, served as president and leads the biggest party in parliament. Her daughter is the speaker of the house.

The race to lead the world’s third-largest democracy is dominated by three men: Prabowo, who is ahead in opinion polls, former Central Java province Governor Ganjar Pranowo, and former Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan.

The three and their running mates are expected to register as candidates from Oct. 19 to Oct. 25.

(Reporting by Stanley Widianto; editing by Robert Birsel)