Group set up to back Anies for president

A group of volunteers have voiced their support for Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan to be a presidential nominee for the 2019 elections in Indonesia, saying he is the "right man" for the job.

Calling themselves Anies - an amalgamation of Aliansi Nasional Indonesia Sejahtera, or the National Alliance for a Prosperous Indonesia - the group held its first public event in Jakarta yesterday.

Speaking to a crowd of about 150 at the Gedong Joang 45 museum, the group's spokesman, Mr La Ode Basir, said Mr Anies deserves a larger role because he has a solid track record as governor.

This includes his ability to fulfil campaign promises, such as the suspending of a disputed land reclamation project started by the central government north of the capital, and the provision of low-cost housing without down payment to the less well-off - all this, despite being in office for less than a year.

The group, which Mr La Ode claims already has "thousands of members", was started on June 28 by nine people, among them various social and political activists, and an ustaz, or religious teacher.

They do not belong to any political party but the group plans to lobby the support of party leaders to nominate Mr Anies as a presidential candidate, said Mr La Ode.

"We will also familiarise people in other regions with our plan to support Anies for president," he added.

It is no secret that Mr Anies has eyed the presidency for some time, having been close to being nominated as a candidate in 2014.

He has denied any association with this latest group of volunteers and has also remained coy when asked to comment on rumours that he will be contesting as an opposition candidate against President Joko Widodo.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2018, with the headline 'Group set up to back Anies for president'. Print Edition | Subscribe