Tue, 21 Mar 2000

Akbar Tandjung set for presidential nomination

JAKARTA (JP): Golkar Party chairman Akbar Tandjung said on Monday that he was ready for the presidential race in 2004.

But like many other politicians who refrain from outspokenness, Akbar played down his candidacy, saying it was too early to discuss the issue.

"When the time comes, I will think about it. But for now it's not the right time to talk about the nomination," Akbar, who is also the House of Representatives speaker, said.

He said the presidential nomination was not discussed at the party's plenary meeting, which ended on Friday night. The party will concentrate on internal consolidation to face the next general election, also in 2004, Akbar said.

He said the nomination would only be given to the floor after the party identified and unified its supporters.

A Golkar legislator, Ferry Mursyidan Baldan, agreed that Akbar's nomination was not an urgent matter, since it would take place after the general election.

"Like us, other political parties, such as the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle and the National Mandate Party, have not officially nominated their chairpersons Megawati Soekarnoputri and Amien Rais respectively for presidency," Ferry, who is a former chairman of the Indonesian Muslim Student Association, said.

Golkar legislator Yasril Ananta Baharuddin said on Sunday that the party's leadership meeting scheduled to be held in July was expected to decide on Akbar's nomination for presidency.

Yasril said Akbar would be nominated for the presidency since the party's plenary meeting agreed to elect a new chairman after the next general election.

Not all Golkar members support Akbar's nomination. La Ode Djeni, a Golkar legislator representing Southeast Sulawesi, opposed Akbar's presidential bid.

"It's too early to nominate Akbar. If it's only a discourse I can agree with it," Djeni, who is known as a key figure in a rival faction in the party popularly called caucus Iramasuka -- an acronym for Irian Jaya, Nusa Tenggara, Maluku, Sulawesi and Kalimantan.

Instead, Djeni suggested several names, such as former manpower minister Fahmi Idris, former justice minister Muladi, former sport and youth affairs minister Agung Laksono and Golkar deputy chairman Marwah Daud Ibrahim.

"We, in the Iramasuka group, supported Marwah. She never announced that she resigned from the party," Djeni said.

Earlier, Golkar Party patron and Iramasuka leader A.A. Baramuli asked Akbar to resign for failing to accommodate grassroots interests, especially from Eastern Indonesia.

"Akbar has not heeded aspirations from supporters from the eastern part of the country who contributed most of the party's votes in the last general election," Baramuli said.

Many analysts suspect that the caucus, known for its staunch support for former president B.J. Habibie, harbors a "hate" toward Akbar, whom they blamed for Habibie's aborted presidential campaign. (jun)