Subject: JP: Who wants to be next president, Golkar asks

Excerpt: Former Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Gen. (ret) Wiranto and former chief of the Army's Strategic Reserve Command (Kostrad), Lt. Gen (ret) Prabowo Subianto, have also been tipped to join the selection process.

Jakarta Post July 11, 2003

Who wants to be next president, Golkar asks

Kurniawan Hari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Golkar, the political vehicle of former dictator Soeharto, has embarked on a national campaign aimed at netting a presidential candidate to be fielded by the party in the 2004 election.

However, doubts have been mounting over Golkar's sincerity in holding the exercise as it has been conceived at a time when party chairman Akbar Tandjung is awaiting a Supreme Court ruling on his appeal against a three-year jail sentence for corruption.

Should the Supreme Court uphold the verdict, Akbar will be sent to jail immediately.

Golkar deputy secretary-general Rully Chairul Azwar said all citizens were invited to submit the names of individuals considered to have the necessary abilities to bring the country out of its prolonged economic crisis.

"We are giving a chance to all citizens to nominate, or be nominated as, a presidential candidate through this convention," Rully said.

Golkar, which came second in the 1999 general election, is encouraging qualified figures to nominate themselves or be nominated by mass organizations as presidential candidates during the party's first ever convention, Rully said.

The registration period will run from July 11 through July 30, 2003.

Individuals wishing to run as Golkar's candidate in the 2004 poll, when the country is expected to hold its first ever direct presidential election, may nominate themselves by producing documents proving that they are supported by at least 500 people in five provinces.

The aspirants may also use Golkar-affiliated mass organizations to nominate and register themselves directly with the party's registration team. The candidates can also be nominated through regional chapters of Golkar.

Those wishing to join the race must never have participated in a secessionist movement, be committed to maintaining the country's unity, be ready to help Golkar win the 2004 election, accept Golkar's political platform, and not be nominated by another political party.

The convention is expected to produce five presidential candidates, one of whom will be selected as the party's sole candidate next year.

"If the people think they have the best candidate, please use the mass organizations to nominate them," Rully said.

Several names have been mentioned as Golkar presidential candidates, including Muslim scholar Nurcholish Madjid and media tycoon Surya Paloh.

Former Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Gen. (ret) Wiranto and former chief of the Army's Strategic Reserve Command (Kostrad), Lt. Gen (ret) Prabowo Subianto, have also been tipped to join the selection process.

Those wishing to participate in the convention have to fill in the forms and complete all the requirements before their nominations will be verified.

Aspirants passing the verification stage will then travel to the regions to present their manifestos to the regional branch offices of the Golkar Party.

Although the idea of having a convention was originally widely hailed, many have since speculated that the move is designed to seek an alternative presidential candidate should the Supreme Court uphold Akbar Tandjung's conviction.

Nurcholish, who has frequently expressed his readiness to participate in the Golkar convention, said his biggest rival at the convention would be Akbar as he was the party chairman.

Akbar refused to answer questions posed by journalists on Thursday as to whether or not he would stand in the next election.

Timeline

July 11 - July 30: Registration period;

August 7, 2003: Deadline to return forms and required documents;

August 21, 2003: Campaigning in regional branches;

Oct. 15, 2003: Convention at regional levels;

Oct. 20, 2003: Each province selects 5 candidates;

Feb. 2004: Final decision


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