Indonesian president picks conservative running mate for poll

Widodo chooses cleric as VP pick in election race

Widodo chooses cleric as VP pick in election race

The head of the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo), Hariyadi Sukamdani, viewed the president's decision to tap Ma'aruf Amin as his running mate in the 2019 election was Jokowi's attempt to suppress issues of identity politics, which poses a threat towards Indonesia's unity.

Prabowo and Sandiaga are supported by a coalition of four political parties, including the third largest Great Indonesia Movement Party, the Democratic Party chaired by former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the Prosperous and Justice Party and the National Mandate Party.

Incumbent president-cum-presidential candidate Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has said that what the government has done is evident throughout the past four years, and not fiction.

Jokowi said he chose Ma'ruf Amin, the 75-year-old chairman of the Indonesian Council of Muslim Scholars (MUI), because the two would make a "nationalist-religious combination".

The opposition party Gerindrra asked General Prabowo Subianto, who was defeated in 2014 in the "Jokowi" elections, to seek a Muslim religious leader as a deputy.

Associate Professor Fealey said Mr Amin would provide a "political shield" to Jokowi, who is sometimes accused of not being religious enough.

Prabowo was a top military figure in the chaotic months before dictator Suharto was toppled by student protests in 1998. "This means we may grab more gold medals but must not lack even one gold medal", he said.

"Gerindra, PKS and PAN have entrusted me and Sandiaga Uno to be their presidential and vice-presidential candidates", Prabowo said at his home in southern Jakarta, referring to his party and its coalition partners.

"We will fight for all Indonesian people, whatever their religion, whatever the tribe, whatever the ethnicity, whatever the race", Mr Prabowo said after officially registering his ticket.

"It's clear the president wants to play safe and lock in the conservative Muslim vote but at the same time he is disappointing a lot of people who were looking for someone a little more inspiring", Keith Loveard, senior analyst at Jakarta-based Concord Consulting, told BenarNews.

The 2014 presidential election was marred by dirty campaigning and wild internet rumours that Jokowi was a secret communist and of Chinese background, accusations often used in Indonesia to discredit or intimidate political opponents.

There was a celebratory atmosphere and snarled traffic outside the election commission in central Jakarta as the candidates arrived.

Prabowo testily refused to accept the election results and withdrew just hours before the announcement of official results.

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