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Offbeat Indonesia president chooses cleric as VP pick in 2019 election race

13:20  10 august  2018
13:20  10 august  2018 Source:   msn.com

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JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesian President Joko Widodo has chosen Ma'ruf Amin, the head of Indonesian Ulema Council, as his running mate for the 2019 election , he told a press conference on Thursday.

General elections will be held in Indonesia on 17 April 2019 . For the first time, the president , and members of People's Consultative Assembly, will be elected on the same day.

Indonesian Ulema Council Ma'ruf Amin (3rd L) is expected to bolster the Islamic credentials of President Joko Widodo (2nd L) © Provided by AFP Indonesian Ulema Council Ma'ruf Amin (3rd L) is expected to bolster the Islamic credentials of President Joko Widodo (2nd L)

Indonesia's 2019 presidential race took shape Friday with incumbent Joko Widodo choosing to run alongside a conservative Islamic cleric against controversial ex-general Prabowo Subianto.

Widodo, whose down-to-earth style and ambitious infrastructure drive has made him popular with many Indonesians, picked cleric Ma'ruf Amin as his vice presidential nominee.

The decision will bolster the president's Islamic credentials but could be polarizing among more progressive voters.

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Indonesian President Joko Widodo has chosen Ma'ruf Amin, the head of Indonesian Ulema Council, as his running mate for the 2019 election , he told a press conference on Thursday. The Ulema Council is Indonesia ’s top Muslim clerical body.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has chosen Ma'ruf Amin, the head of Indonesian Ulema Council, as his running mate for the 2019 election , he told a press conference on Thursday. The Ulema Council is Indonesia ’s top Muslim clerical body.

Amin, 75, is the current chairman the country's top Islamic authority the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), which issues fatwas and has some influence over government policy on Islamic matters.

Known for his disparaging views towards certain minorities, including Indonesia's LGBT community, Amin was instrumental in the jailing of Jakarta's former Christian governor Basuki "Ahok" Purnama in 2017 by declaring he had committed blasphemy.

Widodo told supporters Friday, however, he wanted an election fought on ideas and achievements, "not divisiveness".

The pair will square off against Prabowo and deputy Jakarta governor Sandiaga Uno, a former businessman and private equity tycoon.

Prabowo, who lost to Widodo in 2014, officially enjoys the support of the Democratic Party and two small Islamic parties, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and the National Mandate Party (PAN).

Opinion polls show Prabowo is well behind Widodo, who is popularly known as Jokowi.

Prabowo was a top military figure in the chaotic months before dictator Suharto was toppled by student protests in 1998.

Following the strongman's downfall, he admitted ordering the abduction of democracy activists and was discharged from the military for exceeding orders, but has never faced a civilian court.

Indonesian island hit by another quake, causing landslides .
A strong earthquake jolted the Indonesian tourist island of Lombok on Sunday, causing landslides and damaging buildings, as the island tries to recover from a temblor earlier this month that killed hundreds of people. The U.S. Geological Survey measured the quake, which was centered in Lombok's northeast, at magnitude 6.3 with a depth of 7 kilometers (4 miles). It was felt on the neighboring island of Bali and was preceded a few minutes earlier by a magnitude 5.4 quake, also in Lombok's northeast.

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