Indonesian election campaign begins

Indonesia has started campaigning for the country's first direct presidential election.

    The government has stepped up security for the 5 July vote

    Opinion polls on Tuesday show incumbent leader Megawati Sukarnoputri lagging behind her former chief Security Minister, General Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

     

    Susilo is the clear frontrunner to take over the world's most populous Muslim nation on a platform of firm leadership, cleaner government and faster economic growth.

     

    More than 147 million people will be eligible to vote on 5 July across Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago of 17,000 islands and 220 million people.

       

    Candidates

    Indonesian Democratic party

    Megawati Sukarnoputri 

    Running mate: Hasyim Muzadi, chief of country's largest Muslim organisation. 
       
    Democrat party

    Susilo Yudhoyono

    Running mate: Jusuf Kalla, former minister and business tycoon.

    Golkar party

    Wiranto

    Running mate: Salahuddin Wahid, deputy of Indonesia's human rights commission and senior Nahdlatul Ulama leader. 
       
    National Mandate party

    Amien Rais

    Running mate: Siswono Yudhohusodo, chief of
    the Indonesian Farmers Association. 

    United Development party

    Hamzah Haz

    Running Mate: Agum Gumelar, transport minister

    A legislative body previously chose Indonesia's presidents.

     

    The three main presidential candidates are secular nationalists. Two others are Muslim leaders.

       

    Clear favourite

     

    But polls show Yudhoyono winning 40% of the vote, easily beating Megawati or his other main rival, former military chief Wiranto, the nominee of Golkar, once the party of former president Suharto.

       

    If no candidate wins a majority, a runoff will be held in September between the two top candidates.

       

    Megawati has stabilised Indonesia after chaos that followed Suharto's ousting in 1998, but many see her as too weak to eradicate profiteering and improve the rule of law.

       

    Her party came second in parliamentary elections on 5 April after losing nearly half its seats. Golkar was first, but won less than a quarter of the seats on offer.

       

    Yudhoyono's fledgling party won 10% of the seats. Since that time, he has shot to presidential favourite.

    SOURCE: AFP


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