Two presidential candidates register for Indonesia polls next year

Prabowo and Sandiaga Uno announce their bid in the 2019 presidential elections. —Reuters

Ma'ruf was instrumental in the jailing past year of former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian, on charges of blaphemy.

Widodo, whose down-to-earth style and ambitious infrastructure drive has made him popular with many Indonesians, picked cleric Ma'ruf Amin as his vice presidential nominee.

"Maybe there are questions from the people all over Indonesia why Professor Dr. Ma'ruf Amin was chosen.

Prabowo said his candidacy was supported by three political parties, but left out the Democrat Party in his nomination speech in an apparent sign of rifts in the opposition coalition.

Gerindra Party leader Prabowo Subianto waves to reporters as he arrives for a meeting with former Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the Yudhoyono's residence in Jakarta, Indonesia August 9, 2018 in this photo taken by Antara Foto.

The 2014 presidential election was marred by dirty campaigning and wild internet rumours that Jokowi was a secret communist and of Chinese background, accusations often used in Indonesia to discredit or intimidate political opponents.

In December previous year, Ma'ruf said he regretted the Constitutional Court's decision to reject a petition to criminalise gay sex, calling for a "stern prohibition" of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender activities.

Prabowo has yet to announce his running mate. "We want to be dedicated so that there will be no more hungry people, no more poor people in Indonesia and justice must be felt by all Indonesian people", he said.

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Prabowo's candidate for Jakarta governor won the election, which analysts and rights advocates condemned for inflaming sectarian sentiment.

"There is a good chance that a lot of progressives will prefer to abstain".

Ma'ruf's selection is not without controversy.

Amin had been a presidential adviser and had served in local and national legislatures in the past.

Some Muslim conservatives have also accused his government of being hostile to Islamic clerics after police previous year sought to question Rizieq Shihab, the leader of the Islamic Defenders' Front, a vigilante group, on charges of pornography after screenshots of alleged sex chats between him and a female supporter circulated on social media.

Shihab was among the leaders of Muslim groups behind the blasphemy campaign against Ahok, an ally of Jokowi.

The Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) last month said that Jokowi's electability remains as high as 58.2 percent.

"But I suspect identity politics won't sell in 2019 because in 2014 he won in spite of it", he said.

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