Anies seeks to mend ties
Ivany Atina Arbi
The Jakarta Post
Anies Baswedan, the presumptive winner of the Jakarta gubernatorial election, made a conciliatory gesture on Thursday by holding a meeting with defeated candidate and incumbent Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama at City Hall, following a bitterly contested election that divided the city along religious and racial lines.
Anies and Ahok agreed to have the meeting after the two politicians exchanged text messages on Wednesday shortly after pollsters projected that Anies would win the gubernatorial election.
Knowing that Ahok had to leave City Hall early for his blasphemy trial, Anies arrived for the meeting at 7.30 a.m., interrupting Ahok’s regular meet-andgreet program with Jakartans.
Upon seeing Anies, Ahok cut short his meeting with the residents and moved to greet Anies and proceeded to escort him to the governor’s mansion next to City Hall.
Anies said during the meeting, which lasted 30 minutes, he and Ahok discussed efforts to start a reconciliation process between supporters from their respective camps.
“We all are Jakartans. Let bygones be bygones. Let’s start a new chapter,” Anies told reporters after the meeting.
Hours after balloting wrapped up on Wednesday, a number of research outfits projected that Anies and his running mate, millionaire Sandiaga Uno, would win the gubernatorial election by a wide margin.
Jakarta-based pollster Sjaiful Mujani Research and Consulting (SRMC) showed Anies securing 58.06 percent of the vote against Ahok’s 41.94 percent.
After learning he was trailing by a double-digit margin, Ahok conceded defeat and pledged that he would pave the way for a smooth transition at City Hall.
On Thursday, one of issues highlighted during the meeting between Anies and Ahok was the 2018 city budget.
Anies said an early discussion on the budget would be crucial in his effort to realize some of his campaign promises.
“If we don’t discuss it now, I am afraid the programs we campaigned on to implement in 2018 will be put off until 2019 because the 2018 city budget has already been approved,” Anies said.
Meanwhile, Ahok insisted that discussions on the 2018 city budget needed to wrap up soon, without waiting for Anies to take the reins of power in October.
He suggested that Anies send members of his team to discuss some of the new details of the budget with officials in the current administration.
“We will include [some of the new details] into programs that need to be implemented immediately,” Ahok said.
With regards to Anies’ invitation to begin work on reconciliation, Ahok maintained that his supporters would accept the final election result.
“I guarantee that my supporters will not stir up any problems,” he added.
The Jakarta General Elections Commission (KPU Jakarta) is expected to announce the final results of the election in early May.
On the campaign trail, Anies pledged he would halt some of Ahok’s controversial policies, including the reclamation project along the city’s northern coast as well as the eviction program aimed at widening some of the city’s main rivers such as Ciliwung and Cipinang.
Ahok’s decision to press ahead with the 2018 budget is likely aimed at safeguarding some of his signature projects that could be axed by Anies.
Responding to Anies’ plan to halt the reclamation project, Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan said the presumptive governor should not rush to execute the plan.
“There are new processes that need to be looked at. We will explain about this issue carefully. Maybe Pak Anies does not have complete information yet,” Luhut told reporters at the State Palace on Thursday.
Luhut said he was convinced that once Anies got a complete picture of the reclamation project, he would decide to reverse his stance.
There has been no official statement from the State Palace regarding Anies’ victory.
Some analysts say Anies’ victory in Jakarta deals a serious political blow to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who backed Ahok to be governor for the next five years as part of his strategy to push through some of his key infrastructure projects.
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