Fri, 22 Aug 2003

Akbar clears Golkar screening for presidency

A'an Suryana, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Golkar Party announced on Thursday the 19 people who will contest the convention held to select the party's presidential candidates, including its chairman Akbar Tandjung.

Akbar, who was sentenced to three years in jail for corruption involving the State Logistics Agency (Bulog), qualified for the convention, thanks to the lax rules of the game.

The party chairman remains free pending a Supreme Court verdict on his appeal. The court may delay the announcement of the verdict as it will replace one of the five justices hearing the case, Laica Marzuki, following his appointment to the Constitutional Court.

"The committee's screening has found that all 19 of the candidates met the requirements to contest the convention," Oetojo Oesman, who chairs the convention committee, said on Thursday,

The requirements have included written confirmation from the state court stating that candidates are not convicts serving at least five years in jail, and from the commercial court stating they are not bankrupt.

Golkar has made another change to the rules regarding the minimum education of candidates. Under the amended regulation senior high school graduates can contest the convention, in the same way as it is stipulated in the presidential election law.

Other candidates include Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Jusuf Kalla, Yogyakarta Governor Sultan Hamengkubuwono X, former Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Gen. (ret) Wiranto, former chief of the Army's Strategic Reserves Command (Kostrad) Lt. Gen. (ret) Prabowo Subianto, former justice minister Muladi, businessman Aburizal Bakrie, media mogul Surya Paloh and Golkar legislators Marwah Daud Ibrahim and Theo Sambuaga.

Oetojo said the candidates would tour a number of cities across the country to promote their vision and mission, from next week through Sept. 30.

According to the preliminary itinerary, rallies will be held in South Sumatra on Aug. 24, North Sumatra (Aug. 25), Aceh (Aug. 26), West Sumatra (Aug. 27) and Riau (Aug. 28).

Rully Chairul Azwar, deputy secretary of the convention committee, said the candidates were prohibited from resorting to money politics and defaming other candidates. The committee, he said, would disqualify candidates who ignored three straight warnings.

Golkar will shortlist five candidates in October and select one of them in the national convention scheduled for February next year.