National

Marzuki to join PD primary
despite his slim chances

House of Representatives Speaker Marzuki Alie has confirmed that he will run in the Democratic Party’s (PD) presidential primary slated for this September, even though he knows the odds of winning the party’s ticket to run in the 2014 presidential election are slim.

“I have been preparing my campaigns to support my candidacy in the primary,” he said.

Marzuki previously expressed his reluctance to go on with his plan to join the primary after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s brother-in-law, former Indonesian Army chief Gen. (ret.) Pramono Edhie Wibowo, joined the PD a few weeks after his retirement, last month.

Analysts suggested Marzuki would back off from the primary, knowing that Pramono had been groomed by Yudhoyono to continue the latter’s political legacy within the party, after the President’s second term wraps up in 2014.

The senior PD politician said he thought Pramono would eventually be nominated by the party, but that was no reason to end his presidential ambitions.

Earlier this month, Yudhoyono made the statement supporting Pramono, the younger brother of First Lady Ani Yudhoyono, to compete in the primary.

Marzuki also said Pramono would be never nominated by the party as a vice presidential candidate, even if his running mate was the popular Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P). “That option will definitely not be beneficial for the party because [Pramono] has been prepared to be the number one person in Indonesia, the President,” he said.

Marzuki played down surveys placing Jokowi as the most popular presidential candidate. “Jokowi has benefited from the current situation. Today, people want a leader who is willing to directly approach them, just like what Jokowi has done. But the situation may be different in, say, 20 years. At that time, Jokowi may not be as popular as he is now.”

Also on Thursday, PD executive chairman Syariefuddin Hasan said the party would announce the contestants of the primary on July 31.

According to him, as many as 18 people both inside and outside the party had been appointed as members of the primary’s committee. “Non-PD figures dominate the committee, to ensure its independence,” Syariefuddin said at the State Palace.

While refusing to disclose the names of the members of the committee, the cooperatives and small and medium enterprises minister only confirmed that none of them were a minister.

He said the committee had appointed three “independent” poll bodies to help run the primary. “The poll bodies will also be announced on July 31,” he said.

Several figures have also spoken of their plan to take part in the primary.

Among them are Regional Representatives Council (DPD) chairman Irman Gusman and Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan.

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