Jokowi, Prabowo prepare for large rallies as Indonesia election campaign enters final lap

Indonesian President Joko Widodo (left) and Mr Prabowo Subianto shake hands after the second debate between presidential candidates, on Feb 17, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The respective camps of Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and challenger Prabowo Subianto have started gearing up for massive political rallies as the presidential election draws near.

Starting on Sunday (March 24), the two presidential candidates and their running mates will enter a three-week period in which they are officially allowed to address the public in large-scale campaign events across the country.

The General Elections Commission (KPU) has divided Indonesia's provinces into two campaign zones. The Jokowi-Ma'ruf Amin and Prabowo-Sandiaga Uno tickets are set to take turns in holding campaign events in the two zones, switching between the zones every two days.

The zoning system means that the rival camps' campaign trails will not cross in the same zone, General Elections Commission (KPU) chairman Arief Budiman said.

"We have arranged (for the candidates) to campaign in different zones and schedules to anticipate (possible conflict between supporters of candidates)," Mr Arief said on Thursday,

At a recent draw at the KPU, the Prabowo-Sandiaga pair got to start their campaign in Zone A and the Jokowi-Ma'ruf pair got Zone B.

Zone A comprises Aceh, North and South Sumatra, Riau, Jambi, Jakarta, West and Central Java, East Nusa Tenggara, West, South and Central Kalimantan, South and Central Sulawesi, Maluku and Papua.

Zone B comprises South Sumatra Bengkulu, Lampung, Bangka Belitung, Riau Islands, Yogyakarta, East Java, Banten, Bali, West Nusa Tenggara, East and North Kalimantan, West and South-east Sulawesi, Gorontalo, West Maluku and West Papua.

The campaign will last until April 13, before the cooling-off period prior to voting day on April 17.

Mr Arsul Sani, the deputy chairman of the Jokowi campaign team, said there will be events where Mr Joko and Dr Ma'ruf are slated to attend together and others in which the candidates will appear individually.

"There will be more events where (Joko and Ma'ruf) will campaign separately so that we can ensure the coverage of more regions," he said recently.

For instance, Dr Ma'ruf might attend more events in regions where the majority were members of Islamic organisation Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), of which the cleric is a senior figure, he said.

The team will also determine "priority" regions, such as Aceh and Papua, which are known as the start and end points of Indonesia's (territory)," he said.

The team had yet to finalise which regions the pair would start with, but Mr Arsul said they would end the campaign on April 13 in Jakarta. Mr Joko and Dr Ma'ruf will attend at least 10 events together, he added.

Meanwhile, Mr Prabowo and the Democratic Party joint task force (Kogasma) commander Agus Harimurti held a meeting recently at the former's private residence to discuss the campaign.

"Agus and I have travelled to many regions to gather the aspirations of the people," Mr Prabowo said after the meeting.

National Mandate Party (PAN) chairman Zulkifli Hasan, who is also an official of the team, said Mr Prabowo and Mr Sandiaga would attend campaign events in a variety of places but both were likely to focus on Java.

"It's impossible to reach all the hundreds of cities across the country within only 20 days. Our main focus is Java," Mr Zulkifli said.

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