PDI-P looking to put military man as Joko's running mate

PDI-P looking to put military man as Joko's running mate
Being considered as vice-president nominee by PDI-P are (from left) armed forces commander Moeldoko and former army chief Ryamizard Ryacudu. Another former army chief, Mr Pramono Edhie Wibowo (right), is likely ruled out of the running.

As speculation mounts over who the running-mate of Jakarta governor Joko Widodo for the July presidential election might be, senior party leaders have dropped hints that appear to rule out leaders of other political parties.

Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P) secretary-general Tjahjo Kumolo told reporters on Wednesday that the vice-president had to be someone "who can function as a No. 2 and wants to be a spare tyre".

"There should not be a dualism of leadership," he added.

Referring to Mr Joko as Jokowi, as the governor is popularly called, he said: "If from the start, it was someone not of the same mind as Jokowi, that would be a catastrophe, there'd be no hope for change."

Ever since Mr Joko, 52, was named the PDI-P's presidential candidate on March 14, slates and shortlists of possible running mates for him have surfaced in the media.

What is certain is that the PDI-P chairman, former president Megawati Sukarnoputri, will have the final say. What is also certain is that any nominee will be announced only after the April 9 general election. A vice-presidential candidate need not be formally named until late May.

Mr Joko has not dropped hints on his running mate, but said over the weekend: "I have not made a dichotomy - military, civil, old or young, male or female. What is most important is to complement each other."

He also said, however, that his deputy cannot just be a "spare tyre", but has to work hard for the people and share the same platform as his party.

Ruled out, it would seem, are figures like Golkar advisory council chairman Akbar Tandjung, 68, National Mandate Party leader Hatta Rajasa, 60, and a former army chief, Democratic Party board member Pramono Edhie Wibowo, as their parties are likely to clash with the PDI-P on issues.

In the meantime, several observers have talked up the merits of a military man. This is because Mr Joko's main rival for the top job is likely to be former special forces general Prabowo Subianto, 62.

A Charta Politika survey released on Wednesday found that 47 per cent of respondents preferred a president from a civilian background, while 39 per cent preferred one from a military background. It also found 20 per cent of respondents felt former vice-president Jusuf Kalla, 71, a Golkar member who is no longer a party leader, was the best pick for vice-president.

The thinking behind the support for a military man for the No. 2 job is that he will help neutralise the preference among voters for a strong man.

This preference can be discerned as nostalgia has risen for the price stability and order of the era of former strong man Suharto.

On the other hand, as Dr J. Kristiadi of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies noted, the military was no longer a major player in the political landscape, and civil society did not seem inclined to accept a vice-president from the military either.

But PDI-P leaders are still mulling over military men to complement Mr Joko, a former businessman until he was elected Solo mayor in 2005.

Names of military leaders that top their list include a former army chief Ryamizard Ryacudu, 63, and the current armed forces commander, General Moeldoko, 56.

Mr Ryamizard is known to be close to Ms Megawati and told a group of media editors last week that Indonesia needed decisive and brave leadership. He said of Mr Joko: "We have to help and protect him. He has several weaknesses we have to help strengthen."

Meanwhile, General Moeldoko told The Straits Times his job now was to ensure the polls went smoothly.

As for the vice-presidency, he said: "I want to be a professional soldier, and for the time being, I have not dwelled on that."

He added: "For me, this is a situation that has to be addressed wisely by the commander of the Indonesian Armed Forces, so that the leadership transition can go on smoothly, without a shock."

zakirh@sph.com.sg


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