Widodo chooses cleric as VP pick in election race

Indonesia Joko Widodo picks cleric as VP candidate

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.

"Wherever there have been socially conservative campaigns run within the Islamic community in Indonesia, Ma'ruf Amin has often been right at the centre of those campaigns", he said. He is running with businessman and deputy Jakarta governor Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno.

Indonesia, the world's third-largest democracy and biggest Muslim-majority country, goes to the polls in April. Possibly it has trouble accepting Uno as vice-presidential candidate. Dr. Ma'ruf Amin", the president told a news conference Thursday with the chairman and secretary general of the governing coalition.

The contest, at least in terms of the presidential candidates, is shaping up as a repeat of the 2014 election, when political outsider Widodo defeated Prabowo, who has deep ties to Indonesia's business and military elite. Amin is now Chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council (Majelis Ulama Indonesia) as well as Chairman of the advisory council of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the world's largest Islamic organization.

Amin is the influential head of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), who issued a statement condemning Widodo's political ally, the ethnic Chinese Christian former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, as a blasphemer for insulting the Koran in the middle of a heated Jakarta election campaign.

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"Jokowi is anxious that the issue of religion would be used to attack him", Arya said.

"I think we complete each other, nationalistic and religious".

The MUI was also pivotal to several controversial regulations including the country's anti-Pornography law, which has to date blocked out 70,000 "negative" websites, and the 2013 decree banning the Ahmadiyah Muslim religious sect. Just last week, chairman of the party, former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and Prabowo's Gerindra party announced an alliance.

In December previous year, Ma'ruf said he regretted the Constitutional Court's decision to reject a petition to criminalise gay sex, calling for a "stern prohibition" of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender activities. "This is the foundation that we have built and it needs to be continued", said Jokowi on August 10, in front of his supporters at Gedung Joang 45 before departing to the General Election Commission (KPU) to register himself and his running mate. "We want to be dedicated so that there will be no more hungry people, no more poor people in Indonesia and justice must be felt by all Indonesian people", he said.

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