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Jakarta Post

PAN leader courts Jokowi’s challengers

  • Nurul Fitri Ramadhani

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, May 8, 2018   /   04:47 pm
   PAN leader courts Jokowi’s challengers  People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) speaker Zulkifli Hasan (right) attends the inauguration ceremony of MPR members in Jakarta on Jan.11. (Antara/Wahyu Putro A.)

National Mandate Party (PAN) leader Zulkifli Hasan met with former Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Gatot Nurmantyo on Tuesday, in another signal of the party’s attempt to break away from the ruling coalition ahead of the 2019 general election. 

While other political parties in the ruling coalition — the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the Golkar Party, the NasDem Party, the Hanura Party and the United Development Party (PPP) — have declared their support for Jokowi, PAN has been busy courting the incumbent’s potential challengers.

Zulkifli, who is also the People’s Consultative Assembly speaker, initiated Tuesday’s meeting with Gatot, which was held at his office at the House of Representatives.

He said he discussed the political situation in the country ahead of the elections. Gatot was an important figure whose opinions were worth consideration, he stressed.

“He is fit to be a presidential candidate,” he said.

Gatot has officially declared his presidential bid, though no political party has made a commitment to nominate him.   

Last week, Zulkifli met with former coordinating maritime affairs minister Rizal Ramli, who was fired by Jokowi in a 2016 reshuffle. Rizal has since become the voice of opposition to the government and is now touted as a potential presidential candidate.

In April, Zulkifli also attended a Gerindra Party event during which the party officially nominated its leader, Prabowo Subianto, as its presidential candidate.

Even though PAN is a member of the ruling coalition and has one of its members in Jokowi’s cabinet, the party has often broken ranks with the pro-government coalition and sided with the opposition. Its chief patron, Amien Rais, is one the most outspoken critics of Jokowi and has been pushing the party to unseat Jokowi in 2019.

Coalition leader PDI-P appears uncomfortable with PAN’s political maneuvering. PAN, for instance, was the only member of the ruling coalition not invited by Cabinet Secretary and senior PDI-P politician Pramono Anung to his office on Monday.

“Maybe we just forgot [to invite PAN],” Pramono said when asked about the absence of PAN executives from Monday’s meeting.

PAN, along with the Democratic Party and National Awakening Party (PKB), has yet to officially announce its presidential candidate. The party, which does not have enough votes to field its own candidate in the presidential election, may join the Jokowi camp, the Prabowo camp or set up a third alliance with the PD and the PKB. (ahw)