Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to pick central bank chief as running mate

Jakarta - Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, seeking reelection in July's presidential election, has picked the central bank's governor as his running mate, politicians said Tuesday.

Yudhoyono's Democratic Party was confirmed Saturday as the winner of the April 9 legislative elections, winning 20.8 per cent of the vote.

News that Yudhoyono has named Bank Indonesia Governor Boediono as his running mate is likely to be welcomed by foreign investors, who view the central banker as a capable and market-friendly economist.

However, it triggered strong reactions from the president's prospective coalition partners, who have offered some of their own members as prospective candidates.

"We have received an early notification that Boediono has been picked as a vice-presidential candidate," Anis Matta, secretary general of the Muslim-based Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS), said on Metro TV.

The PKS is a key backer of Yudhoyono's reelection bid and has offered one of its members to be a running mate, but critics fear that it will impose a conservative Islamic agenda once in power.

Amien Rais, founder of the National Mandate Party (PAN), a member of the ruling coalition, warned that a decision to run with Boediono would prove a blunder for Yudhoyono.

"I'm afraid this team won't go very far. It won't sell," he told Metro TV, calling Boediono an embodiment of neo-liberal economics.

Mahfud Sidik, chairman of the PKS faction in the House of Representatives, said his party was not consulted about the reported decision.

"There's been very little communication on vice-presidential candidates," he said. "We are afraid that this is going to be a pattern in the future."

Parties, or coalitions of parties, that win at least 20 per cent of seats in the 560-member House of Representatives, or 25 per cent of the popular vote, may nominate candidates for the presidential election.

With a popularity rating at above 60 per cent, Yudhoyono could win the first round hands down and avoid a run-off. A run-off would be scheduled in September if no candidate wins more than 50 per cent of the vote.

Yudhoyono's government has been credited with managing the economy well, improving security after a series of attacks blamed on Islamic militants and fighting corruption in one of the world's most graft- prone countries.

The Golkar Party of Vice President Jusuf Kalla came second with 14.5 per cent of the vote, followed by the opposition Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI-P) of former president Megawati Sukarnoputri, with 14 per cent.

The PKS finished fourth with 7.9 per cent.

Golkar has named its chairman, Kalla, as its presidential candidate, breaking away from Yudhoyono's ruling coalition. Coalition talks between Golkar with Yudhoyono's Democratic Party collapsed last month.

Kalla has picked former armed forces chief General Wiranto as his running mate.

Yudhoyono's close rival in opinion polls, Megawati, is expected to run for the top job again, making the election a three-way race.

She has not picked a running mate, but has discussed forming a coalition with Gerindra, a new party led by a former general Prabowo Subianto, which won 4.5 per cent of the vote in last month's polls. (dpa)

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