JAKARTA – Indonesia leader Joko Widodo registered his candidacy on Friday with the aim of being re-elected as president in polls scheduled for April 17 next year.
Widodo put in his registration at the election commission in Jakarta along with his surprise running mate, vice-presidential candidate Ma’ruf Amin.
Islamic scholar Ma’ruf is the current chairman of the country’s highest Islamic clerical body, the Indonesian Ulema Council, as well as the supreme leader of the Nahdlatul Ulama, the world’s largest Islamic organization.
The president, popularly known as Jokowi and considered a moderate, has chosen a religious leader as his running mate in a move that has been interpreted as an attempt to increase his votes among Muslims, representing 88 percent of the 260 million of inhabitants of the archipelago.
The candidates were accompanied by Megawati Sukarnoputri, who served as president between 2001-2004 and is the daughter of the father of Indonesia’s independence, Sukarno.
Widodo, 57, won the 2014 elections and is the first Indonesian president not belonging to the country’s political or military elite. He was formerly the governor of Jakarta.
The politician who replaced Widodo as Jakarta governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, or Ahok, was accused in 2016 of blasphemy and sentenced in May 2017 to two years in prison, interrupting his political career.
Subianto, an ex-military general accused of human rights violations under the Suharto regime and during the democratic transition in 1998, is likely to be Widodo’s main adversary in the presidential campaign.
Subianto, 67, and former son-in-law of Suharto, is a patriot and a conservative candidate who is said to have amassed a great fortune from his business interests.