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Gerindra slows Prabowo
bid

The Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) Party says it will delay naming a presidential candidate, throwing a wrench into the plans of party leader Prabowo Subianto.

Gerindra has canceled a national convention slated for later this month to declare Prabowo’s candidacy, citing administrative reasons.

“We must concentrate on the [official] political party verification process, which will take up most of our energy. For this reason alone, we have canceled several party events, including one expected to be a declaration of Pak Prabowo’s candidacy,” Gerindra secretary-general Ahmad Muzani said on Monday.

Gerindra announced the decision following a move from rival political parties, who agreed not to challenge or amend a law that sets a high threshold for parties to nominate a candidate for the presidency.

Major political parties in the House of Representatives agreed that only parties or coalitions holding at least 20 percent of the seats in the House or who garnered at least 25 percent of the popular vote could nominate candidates.

The move makes it unlikely that Gerindra can nominate a candidate without forming a coalition with the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) the Golkar Party or the Democratic Party.

Muzani, however, said that Gerindra politicians would negotiate with other parties in the House to lower the threshold to open the race to alternative candidates.

He also said Gerindra had filed a judicial review of the 2008 Presidential Election Law to challenge the threshold.

“Article 6(a) of the Constitution only stipulates that presidential candidates and their running mates need only be nominated by political parties. This is our argument to challenge the Presidential Election Law,” Muzani said.

Four senior members of Gerindra, Habiburokhman, Adhe Dwi Kurnia, M. Said Bakhri and Munathsir Mustaman, filed the review with the Constitutional Court on Monday.

Muzani described the case review, which can be dropped before the court issues a decision, as Gerindra’s final option if the major parties decline to lower the threshold.

Gerindra was suspicious of moves to block Prabowo’s bid for the nation’s top job, Muzani said.

“We suspect that there are some quarters, including political parties and groups outside the legislative body, that are trying to block Pak Prabowo’s aspiration to run for president because of his popularity in a large number of the opinion polls,” Muzani said.

The leader of Democratic Party lawmakers in the House, Nurhayati Ali Assegaf, previously said that her party would stick with the current threshold. Nurhayati’s comments received support on Monday from Democratic Party deputy-secretary-general Ramadhan Pohan.

“The Presidential Election Law can perfectly accommodate all issues, so we will not support any attempts at a revision,” Pohan said. “We can’t arbitrarily amend the law just to satisfy the demands of a certain party. If Prabowo is confident enough to run in the upcoming presidential election, just do it and stop whining.”

Separately, National Mandate Party (PAN) chairman Hatta Rajasa, who is also the coordinating economic minister, told reporters that PAN also wanted to let the Presidential Election Law stand due to time constraints.

“We don’t need to change it. There isn’t enough time. Let’s just use the old one,” Hatta said on the sidelines of a meeting with the House’s budget committee on Monday.

Hatta, however, declined to comment on his party’s plans to forward him as a presidential candidate.

Previously, the Missing Persons Association (IKOHI) said that it would challenge the candidacy of Prabowo, a retired lieutenant general, for what they called his poor human rights records when commander of the Army’s elite Special Forces Command (Kopassus).

Mugiyanto, the chairman of IKOHI and a survivor of an abduction he attributed to Prabowo, said that families of victims of the disappearances would contest Prabowo’s candidacy in court.

The delay follows statements from Gerindra’s allies in the PDI-P that the party might rethink a coalition to nominate a presidential candidate in 2014.

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