Prabowo to improve Australia ties if he wins presidency | Asia Pacific

Prabowo to improve Australia ties if he wins presidency

Prabowo to improve Australia ties if he wins presidency

Updated 7 July 2014, 12:43 AEST

The campaign team behind Indonesia's Presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto says a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is a priority, if he wins this week's election.

Mr Prabowo's foreign affairs spokesman Tantowi Yahya says the former military commander would seek to visit Australia, as President, to try to work on restoring relations.

After four weeks of campaigning, a hush has now descended over Indonesian politics, as the nation observes a three-day campaigning "blackout" before polls open on Wednesday.

Correspondent: Greg Jennett

Speakers: Jokowi supporter; Prabowo supporter; Prabowo Sibianto, former army commander and presidential candidate; Hashim Djojohadikusumo, Prabowo's financier and supporter; Tantowi Yahya, foreign affairs spokesman for Prabowo

(supporters singing election songs)

GREG JENNETT: Two ditties have been a sound-track to Indonesia's election: the 'Prabowo-Hatta' jingle, and the song written for Jokowi.

Full-throated supporters gave them a work-out until the legally enforced electioneering "black-out" kicked in at the weekend.

JOKOWI SUPPORTER: We wish the winner will be Mr Jokowi.

PRABOWO SUPPORTER: Choose just Number One - it's Prabowo-Hatta! WINNER!

GREG JENNETT: In Ramadan and unable to pitch for votes, Joko Widodo has left to pray in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. He's made the pilgrimage before previous victories in mayoral and gubernatorial elections.

Jokowi's opponent, Prabowo Subianto is also constrained. But before the moratorium kicked in, he told the ABC why he thought his campaign had peaked at the right time.

PRABOWO SUBIANTO: I have real support but the other side is a bit of a bubble.

GREG JENNETT: Prabowo's campaign has been slick, while Jokowi's has been ad hoc and grass-roots, deliberately so. The polls vary wildly, but all track an upward trend for Prabowo over the last month.

His financier, adviser and brother, Hashim, seems convinced it's even better than that.

HASHIM DJOJOHADIKUSUMO: I've seen seven different polls which show we are leading. There's an internal poll says we are 7.5 per cent ahead.

GREG JENNETT: If Prabowo Subianto was to become president-elect on Wednesday, diplomats in Jakarta and around the world will be cabling analysis of who he is and how to work with him.

In Australia's case, his team is getting in early.

TANTOWI YAHYA: One of the important countries that he would like to pay visit is Australia.

GREG JENNETT: Tantowi Yahya is an MP, a member of the Parliament's Commission One on Foreign Affairs, and a spokesman for the Presidential candidate.

TANTOWI YAHYA: He would like to sit together with the Prime Minister to review about what we did in the past and then to foresee what we should do in the future in order to correct what is considered wrong.

GREG JENNETT: Tantowi stresses Prabowo would try to carry-on Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's still unfinished six-step process to restoring relations. Tony Abbott has declared differences on asylum-seeker policy are "substantially resolved."

The Prabowo team isn't publicly flagging any lingering concerns on that, but does hold the line that foreign minister Marty Natalegawa has maintained.

TANTOWI YAHYA: We will stick to a policy when it comes to sovereignty; there is no compromise on that.

GREG JENNETT: Rival candidate, Joko Widodo has previously said he'd also engage diplomacy and not war-like rhetoric to resolve any differences with Australia.

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