More figures join Dems primary
Bagus BT Saragih and Ina Parlina
The Jakarta Post
The independent selection committee to shortlist the Democratic Party's presidential candidate invited more figures on Sunday to join the selection as presumptive candidates in a convention modeled after US presidential primaries.
On Sunday, the committee announced that it had sent invitations to House of Representatives' (DPR) Speaker Marzuki Alie, Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan, Regional Representatives Council (DPD) Speaker Irman Gusman and North Sulawesi Governor Sinyo Harry Sarundajang.
Earlier on Saturday, the committee interviewed Indonesian Ambassador to the US Dino Patti Djalal, a former spokesman for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
The committee is set to announce 15 selected candidates to run in the presidential primary in early September, after the party has wrapped up its interviews of potential individuals.
Other candidates who have confirmed their participation at the convention are State-Owned Enterprises Minister Dahlan Iskan, Democratic Party lawmaker Hayono Isman and former Indonesian Military (TNI) chief of staff and member of the National Democratic (NasDem) Party, Gen. (ret) Endriartono Sutarto.
Speculation is rife that other candidates include former Army chief of staff Gen. (ret) Pramono Edhie Wibowo, who is also a brother-in-law to Yudhoyono; former vice president Jusuf Kalla; former Constitutional Court chief justice Mahfud MD; Central Java Deputy Governor Rustriningsih, and East Kutai Regent Isran Noor.
However, several potential candidates have been reluctant to join the primary.
Mahfud said recently that the convention would not produce the best candidates.
'My team told me the convention was not prestigious but would only serve as a [political] campaign to promote candidates favored by the committee,' Mahfud said.
Kalla, meanwhile, remained noncommittal, especially with fellow Golkar Party members telling him not to join the convention, warning him that the primary was not worth his national political prominence.
Nonetheless, several potential candidates have reportedly set up campaign teams to run their campaigns ahead of an official announcement of the 15 short-listed figures.
Irman said he was preparing his campaign team, which will likely comprise individuals who helped him to secure his current office.
'But we haven't formally talked [about the campaign]. I personally don't know anything yet about the programs or whether the convention committee will provide anything for the participants. However, I'm ready and prepared [to run]. I want to help Indonesia toward a better future,' Irman said.
Meanwhile, Democratic Party executive chairman Syarif Hasan said he would be backing Sarundajang's candidacy by chairing the campaign team for the North Sulawesi governor.
Sarundajang claimed that he had been personally invited by Yudhoyono to join the primary.
'I'm ready to lead the team. We will go to visit the regions [as part of our campaign] in the near future,' Syarif said as quoted by tribunnews.com.
If announced to have passed the examination, candidates will begin their political campaigns, which will run through December, after which they will go through a first survey to review their electability in early January. Another survey will take place in April to select the final candidate to run in the 2014 presidential election, which is slated for June.
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