President’s Party Backs His Re-election

JAKARTA ~ Thunderous cheers and applause greeted President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Sunday when he announced his readiness to seek a second term in the July presidential polls.

“Now we are making coalition talks. When the time comes, we will announce who will be the vice-presidential candidate who will pair up with me as the nominated presidential candidate,” he said.

Over 500 party leaders from his Democratic Party clad in blue cheered, “long live SBY, long live Democrats” when party chairman Hadi Utomo voiced their support for the incumbent, who is popularly known by his initials.

“We maintain to nominate SBY again and this forum sought his readiness as presidential candidate. We will continue to work hard to attain success,” he said.

Presidential spokesman Andi Mallarangeng told reporters party leaders had given Yudhoyono “a full mandate to elect his vice-presidential candidate.”

“He (Yudhoyono) said he wanted a strong and united government with good chemistry. The Democratic Party will support fully his choice of running mate,” he added.

Accepting the nomination, Yudhoyono said he would “fulfil the trust and work to improve the welfare of Indonesians” if re-elected.

He has not named possible running mates but said he was receiving a “flood” of nominees from political and non-political parties.

“Nineteen names have come in. All are good names and it will make my job easier to choose the best vice-presidential candidate…” he said.

Megawati Sukarnoputri, the daughter of independence hero Sukarno, is seen as Yudhoyono’s biggest rival in the presidential race but lags well behind the liberal ex-general in opinion polls.

Leaders of her Democratic Party of Struggle nominated her Saturday as their presidential candidate and gave her the mandate to pick a running mate, the Antara news agency reported.

Golkar Party nominated the country’s Vice President Jusuf Kalla as its presidential candidate after coalition talks between Golkar and the Democratic Party broke down earlier this week, shaking expectations that Kalla would return as the junior partner in a Yudhoyono government.

In 2004, Yudhoyono and Kalla won the country’s leadership by a landslide in the country’s first direct presidential election.

In the April polls the Democrats almost tripled their vote, with some 20.48 percent, replacing Golkar as the biggest party in parliament, according to one unofficial count.

Golkar and the Democratic Party of Struggle are neck-and-neck for second place, with around 14 percent each. Final official results are not expected until May 9.

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