Indonesian president picks cleric as running mate in 2019

By Stephen Wright | Associated Press

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — The battle lines for Indonesia’s 2019 presidential election were drawn Friday as the incumbent Joko “Jokowi” Widodo formally registered as a candidate after choosing a conservative Islamic cleric as his running mate.

Jokowi, the first Indonesian president from outside the military and political elite, announced his vice-presidential candidate, Ma’ruf Amin, on Thursday after weeks of fevered speculation in local media. Jokowi’s pick has become bigger news in Indonesia, the world’s third-largest democracy, than an earthquake on the island of Lombok that killed more than 300 people.

The decision disappointed liberals but analysts say it shores up Jokowi’s position among conservative Muslims who demonstrated their political power last year with the ouster of Jakarta’s minority Christian governor, a Jokowi ally, who was later imprisoned for blasphemy. Attacking the popular Jokowi as insufficiently religious is one of the few cards his opponents have.