The Jakarta Post
Despite support from residents to run independently for a second term, Jakarta Governor Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja has dropped hints that he is seeking to participate in the 2017 gubernatorial race under the banner of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).
Ahok acknowledged that running independently would be difficult, even if the number of residents' identity cards collected exceeded one million. A group of his supporters calling themselves Teman Ahok (Friends of Ahok) began to collect ID cards on behalf of the governor, seeking to gather enough support for him to run independently for a second term. As of Friday, they had collected 735,316 ID cards.
Independent gubernatorial candidates in Jakarta must collect roughly 532,000 ID cards, about 6.5 percent of the city's population. During verification, some ID cards may not be valid and thus Ahok asked his supporters to collect one million cards 'to be safe'.
A recent survey by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) found that more than half of the respondents supported Ahok to run independently in the 2017 gubernatorial elections.
'Running independently isn't easy. It's not just a matter of ID cards, there are many other issues as well. Besides, one million ID cards is a lot of work,' Ahok said.
Instead, Ahok hinted that he had secured support from the PDI-P and said that he sought incumbent deputy governor Djarot Saiful Hidayat to accompany him for a second term, explaining that he had good chemistry with Djarot.
Ahok said that PDI-P chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri, the party's decision-maker, had given him the green light to participate in the race with Djarot.
'If Teman Ahok collects one million ID cards, I must appreciate their efforts. However, it would be nice to join the PDI-P. Bu Mega has also given me permission to partner up with Pak Djarot and I trust her,' Ahok said.
Ahok said that he would arrange a meeting between his supporters and Megawati to discuss the gubernatorial elections, as he preferred to seek PDI-P support.
Djarot, 53, was East Java's Blitar Mayor from 2000 to 2010, where he was known to have strongly opposed the construction of malls and minimarkets in support of micro, small and medium entrepreneurs.
Aside from Djarot, Ahok mentioned several other names, all of whom were civil servants, such as Financial and Asset Management Board head Heru Budi Hartono, city secretary Saefullah, assistant to governor on spatial planning and the environment Oswar Muadzin Mungkasa, and retired civil servant Sarwo Handayani.
Separately, PDI-P Jakarta branch deputy chairman Pantas Nainggolan said that no official decision had been made by the party in regards to the 2017 gubernatorial elections. Pantas refused to reveal party discussions with regard to the elections. However, as Megawati was a big influence, he said that decisions must be given the go-ahead by the chairwoman.
If Djarot were to run for a second term as Ahok's deputy, party members 'would have no problem,' Pantas admitted.
He confirmed that Ahok has had several meetings with Megawati, but none of those meetings specifically discussed the gubernatorial elections.
'The members and I would have no problem if Djarot is chosen as Ahok's deputy governor candidate for the 2017 elections. If that decision were made, then I'm sure that it would be made in the best interest of the people, not only for the party. But, so far, no decisions have been made,' Pantas said.
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