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Indonesia's 'Elvis' leads celebrity charge at polls

Published on Apr 8, 2014 1:23 PM
Mr Rhoma Irama, the self-styled Dangdut King of Indonesia, performing in a political rally cum concert in Banda Aceh on March 16, 2014, on his election campaign trail for the National Awakening Party (PKB) for the Indonesia Elections 2014. -- ST FILE PHOTO: ZUBAIDAH NAZEER

JAKARTA (AFP) - A white jumpsuit stretched over his bulging belly, an ageing crooner known as Indonesia's Elvis launches into song ahead of elections on Wednesday, one of a parade of celebrities standing as candidates or acting as cheerleaders.

Rhoma Irama, who was seeking support for his own presidential bid and the Islamic party backing him, is part of a star-studded push for votes in the legislative polls, which set the stage for the presidential elections in July.

The tactic seems to be working among some supporters - "Bro Rhoma I love you, bro Rhoma for Indonesian president," screamed one woman wearing a purple Muslim headscarf at his Jakarta concert as she danced vigorously.

But while the presence of celebrities adds colour to the elections, analysts say the trend highlights the woeful state of political life in Indonesia 16 years after dictator Suharto left power.

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