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Jakarta Post

Muslim parties back Prabowo

  • Margareth S. Aritonang

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, May 13, 2014   /  09:08 am

Only days after the National Awakening Party (PKB) pledged its support to the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and presidential hopeful Jakarta Governor Joko '€œJokowi'€ Widodo, the Gerindra Party clinched backing from two other Islamic-based parties, the United Development Party (PPP) and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) on Monday.

A PPP national leadership meeting (Rapimnas) early Monday endorsed the decision to join a Gerindra Party coalition. The decision came after weeks of infighting sparked by party chairman Suryadharma Ali'€™s earlier pledge of support to the presumptive candidacy of Gerindra chief patron Prabowo Subianto.

'€œFinally, at 2 a.m. on May 12, the second PPP Rapimnas agreed to support Prabowo Subianto for president,'€ Suryadharma said after the meeting'€™s closing ceremony in Jakarta on Monday.

Suryadharma also said that PPP executives had agreed Prabowo was the most suitable candidate to lead the country for the next five years.

'€œFor PPP, Prabowo is the only one who meets the requirements to be Indonesia'€™s next leader,'€ he said.

Contacted separately, leader of the PPP faction in the House of Representatives Hasrul Azwar said Prabowo had the best chance to win in the July 9 election.

'€œWe think that Prabowo will likely win the election because he has a clear vision of what to do when he leads this country, whereas Jokowi has never publicly outlined his vision and mission,'€ Hasrul said on Monday.

Hasrul went on to say that PPP executives settled their differences regarding Prabowo'€™s candidacy after considering the former general'€™s leadership capability.

Meanwhile, PKS has expressed its commitment to support Prabowo, although it has yet to officially announce the decision.

'€œThe decision-making process to join Gerindra'€™s coalition is almost complete. We have reached an agreement on basic principles so it is a matter of time before Prabowo and PKS leaders come to a decision as to when to make an official announcement,'€ said PKS senior politician Hidayat Nur Wahid, who is also chairman of the PKS faction at the House.

In addition to PPP and PKS, the National Mandate Party (PAN) has expressed its unofficial support for Prabowo'€™s nomination.

'€œWe will make the announcement on May 14 [Wednesday] during a national meeting, which is the highest decision-making mechanism, second only to the national congress,'€ member of PAN central board Viva Yoga Mulyadi said over the weekend.

Meanwhile, PDI-P has so far secured official support from the PKB and the NasDem Party. PDI-P executives are convinced that more parties will join its coalition.

With Monday'€™s announcements, both PDI-P, which came first in the April 9 legislative election with 18.95 percent of the vote, and Gerindra, which came in third with 11.81 percent, have established coalitions capable of crossing the 25 percent threshold to field a presidential candidate. The Golkar Party, which came in second with 14.75 percent, remains on its own.

Golkar deputy secretary-general Tantowi Yahya said a coalition decision would be made during a national leaders meeting later this week.

Tantowi added that the meeting would also consider the future of party chairman Aburizal Bakrie'€™s presidential bid, as it would affect Golkar'€™s maneuvering ahead of the presidential poll.

'€œIt is possible that we could establish a new coalition because there is another major party that has yet to make a decision,'€ Tantowi said, referring to President Susilo Bambang Yudhyono'€™s Democratic Party, which came in fourth place with 10.9 percent of the popular vote.

Tantowi, however, acknowledged that it was more likely Golkar would join with either PDI-P or Gerindra.

'€œSome of us want Golkar to collaborate with Gerindra and endorse Pak ARB [Aburizal Bakrie] to be Prabowo'€™s running mate, but this seems impossible because Prabowo had earlier said that his running mate will certainly not be Pak ARB. Meanwhile, some others urge Golkar to join PDI-P'€™s coalition and propose Pak ARB run with Jokowi. The final decision will be made in the upcoming meeting,'€ he said.

It was earlier reported Aburizal met with PDI-P chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri over the weekend in Bali to discuss a possible coalition.

On Monday, however, both Golkar and PDI-P denied that the meeting had taken place.

'€œIt is not true. Our only meeting [with Golkar] was when Pak Jokowi met Ical,'€ said PDI-P secretary-general Tjahjo Kumolo, referring to Aburizal.

The Democratic Party, meanwhile, has said it would make a decision regarding a coalition only after it had announced the results of its presidential convention.

Democratic Party spokesperson Ruhut Sitompul said the party was expected to announce the winner of the convention later this week.

'€œThe convention is expected to produce three presidential candidates. We might endorse their names to run with other presidential candidates, either Jokowi or Prabowo, or set up our own coalition to nominate the strongest candidate from the convention,'€ Ruhut said.

Ruhut also said that the Democrats would be ready to become an opposition party if it failed to strike a deal.

'€œWe are ready to be the opposition party.'€

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