08/10/2018, 16.06
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Widodo chooses a Muslim for his vice president ahead of 2019 elections

by Mathias Hariyadi

The candidate vice president will be Kiwi Hajj Ma'ruf Amin, head of the Council of the Indonesian ulema. The choice of the head of moderate Muslim religious to stem Islamic extremists. Commentators say that "Jokowi" fears especially the social campaigns of Islamic radicals.


Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Changing the political leadership structure ahead of the 2019 presidential elections. Last night, Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo announced that his vice-president for the April elections will be Kiwi Hajj Ma'ruf Amin, 75, current president of the Council of Indonesian ulema. 

The choice took the political elites and Indonesian society by surprise. Also because, up to an hour before the announcement, the candidate in pectore in place of vice-president was Mahfud Md, former minister of justice.

According to some rumors, Widodo's political advisers have advised him to discard Mahfud since he is not well seen by Nahdlatul Ulama and his political party, the National Awakening Party. Other commentators say that the real opponent for Widodo in the upcoming elections will not be General Prabowo Subianto but the Islamists.

Amin is the authoritative head of the Indonesian Ulema Council. In the past he had issued a statement condemning Widodo's political ally, the former governor of Jakarta of Chinese ethnicity Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, for insulting the Koran in the middle of an election campaign in Jakarta. On that occasion even the Muslim radicals had conducted several social campaigns against the governor of Jakarta, who lost his second term.

"Jokowi" fears that the same campaign on social media can damage it from a political point of view. For many years religious and political figures belonging to the Islamic world accused him of being anti-Islam; of coming from a Communist family and from the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI); of favoring favor the Chinese minorities, very powerful in the country, who come to Indonesia to work in multinationals and in various commercial companies.

"Some in Indonesia may have wondered why Professor Dr. Ma'ruf Amin was chosen. Because he is a wise religious figure, "Widodo said last night. "I think we complement each other, nationalists and religious".

The choice to elect Amin is seen as a sort of "armistice" by Jokowi to undermine the religious and political power of radical Muslims.

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. However, he said that he would run for the elections with the deputy governor of Jakarta, the billionaire Sandiaga S. Uno, who made a donation of 500 trillion Indonesian rupees (about 300 million euros). The surprise choice of Amin by "Jokowi" surprised the opposition and could push the general, who has friendships among the Muslim elites, to change the name for the vice-presidency.

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