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REUTERS
August 10, 2018

Indonesian president picks cleric as running mate for election

World

REUTERS
August 10, 2018

JAKARTA: Indonesian President Joko Widodo has chosen 75-year-old cleric Ma’ruf Amin as his running mate in next year’s presidential election, he said on Thursday, in a sign he wants to bolster his Islamic credentials.

The two will likely be challenged by former general Prabowo Subianto. On a dramatic day of political manoeuvring and intrigue, Jakarta’s deputy governor, Sandiaga Uno, was identified as a “99 per cent” certainty by a senior official from Prabowo’s Gerindra Party to be his running mate.

But Amin’s elevation may prompt a re-think, said Yusuf Martak, a cleric from the National Movement for Guarding Ulemas Fatwas, an Islamist group counselling Prabowo. Indonesia, the world’s third-largest democracy and biggest Muslim-majority country, goes to the polls in April.

The contest, at least in terms of the presidential candidates, is shaping up as a repeat of the 2014 election, when political outsider Widodo defeated Prabowo, who has deep ties to Indonesia’s business and military elite. Widodo is a popular moderate who has had mixed success with his reform agenda. Prabowo is a charismatic nationalist with strong links to Islamists who frequently rails against foreigners.

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