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Indonesia's opposition party chief refuses to give up

Publication Date : 19-03-2014


In spite of calls for him to reconsider his presidential bid following the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle’s (PDI-P) nomination of Jakarta Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, Golkar Party chairman Aburizal Bakrie has maintained that his nomination was final.

From the campaign trail, Aburizal said he was confident about winning the presidential election.

Aburizal showed that confidence on Tuesday when he met with hundreds of supporters gathered at the Ciracas Sports Center in East Jakarta

Responding to reporters’ queries about a possible change of plan following the PDI-P’s move, Aburizal said: “Golkar’s strategy remains the same, with or without Jokowi being nominated. Perhaps, Jokowi could be my vice presidential candidate,” he said, followed by chuckles from people in his entourage.

Following the statement, Aburizal entered the 5,000-capacity stadium, only to find that it was half empty.

Also appearing on stage with Aburizal was Akbar Tandjung, the head of the Golkar’s advisory council who until recently demanded the Golkar leadership reconsider their presidential election plan.

The Golkar central board has named some of its figures to be campaign speakers including Akbar and former chairman and vice president Jusuf Kalla, who had been perceived as a figurehead for a splinter faction within the party — a move deemed by many as a show of unity.

In Ciracas, however, the cold relationship between Akbar and Aburizal was visible to all.

Only last week, Akbar said publicly that he was willing to be “a vice presidential candidate and paired with any ‘clean’ presidential candidate”.

On Wednesday, Akbar appeared to want to be somewhere else and could be seen making awkward movements on stage — a sharp contrast to other party executives secretary-general Idrus Marham and central board member Rizal Mallaranggeng, who both spoke energetically to the audience.

After the campaign event wrapped up, Akbar left the stadium alone, leaving Aburizal’s entourage behind.

“I have enough experience under my belt, in the government, in politics and at the House of Representatives. If that makes me capable (of being a vice presidential candidate), I am ready,” Akbar told The Jakarta Post.

Akbar, however, denied the suggestion that he had been making maneuvers to shore-up support for his vice presidential bid. “I have never mobilized support nor approached other parties,” he said.

When asked about the potential of him being paired with Jokowi, Akbar said: “Don’t be in a hurry, let’s now focus on the legislative election. At the moment, that is our priority.”

Akbar also said that he had not discussed the issue with Aburizal. “I met him just now. We never had such a discussion.”

Besides Akbar, the name of Kalla has also been floated as a potential vice presidential candidate.

Senior Golkar lawmaker party executive Yorrys Raweyai, who is also known as a member of the party’s “eastern Indonesia faction” to which Kalla also belongs, said that Golkar should consider pairing Kalla with another party’s presidential candidate, particularly given the former vice president’s high electability rating.

“The nomination of Aburizal is already final. So now, let’s nominate Kalla for vice president,” he said.

Earlier, Golkar senior politician Zainal Bintang openly urged the Golkar Party to drop Aburizal’s nomination to prevent an outright defeat in a race against Jokowi.

On Tuesday, Aburizal brushed off the statements. “Regarding Zainal’s statement […] I don’t know. Zainal who? But on Akbar and Yorrys, I think it was the media that misquoted them,” he said.

Also on Tuesday, the Hanura Party held a campaign rally in Depok, West Java, with the party’s vice presidential candidate, Hary Tanoesoedibjo, serving as the main campaigner.

Speaking in front of hundreds of supporters, Hary pledged that the party would transform Indonesia from a developing to a developed country and provide its citizens with, among other things, free education and quality health care.

Other than providing free entertainment of dangdut music, Hanura gave away free premium life insurance, which would allow family members of the holder to receive up to 9 million rupiah (794 US dollars) in the of death.

Hary’s media group recently made inroads into the insurance business with the launch of PT MNC Asuransi Indonesia.


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