JAKARTA - A much anticipated meeting between opposition Gerindra Party chief Prabowo Subianto and Democratic Party founder Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has been postponed because the latter has been hospitalised for exhaustion.
Dr Yudhoyono, who is 68, was exhausted from his visits to Pacitan regency in East Java and Yogyakarta, and was admitted to hospital on Tuesday, Democratic Party deputy chairman Syarifuddin Hasan told journalists in a text message on Wednesday (July 18).
Separately, on the same day, Dr Yudhoyono's wife Ani posted on Instagram a photo of her husband working from his hospital bed at the Gatot Subroto Army Hospital in Jakarta.
"Whatever the condition, duty shall be fulfilled," said Mrs Yudhoyono in her post.
The former president and Mr Prabowo, 66, were expected to discuss the possibility of forming a coalition to challenge President Joko Widodo when he runs for re-election in 2019.
Their meeting, originally scheduled for Wednesday night, comes amid rumours that Mr Prabowo had invited Dr Yudhoyono's elder son and former army major Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, 39, to be his running mate for the upcoming presidential race.
Mr Prabowo on Tuesday also met Ms Puan Maharani, a senior member of the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).
He did not comment after the meeting with Ms Puan but it triggered speculation that Gerindra could possibly be joining forces with the ruling party backing Mr Joko's bid for re-election. Ms Puan is the daughter of PDI-P founder and former president Megawati Soekarnoputri.
More than 170 million Indonesians will head to the polls next April to elect their president and lawmakers at the same time. Campaigning for the presidential race will begin officially on Sept 23.
The presidential race is expected to be a rerun of the last polls in 2014, with a straight fight between Mr Prabowo and Mr Joko.
Indonesians have been gripped by intense speculation on possible political coalitions and presidential candidates in recent days.
Mr Joko has said that he has narrowed his choice of a running mate to five candidates, confirming on Monday that they included Golkar chairman Airlangga Hartarto, former chief justice Mahfud M.D. and outgoing West Nusa Tenggara Governor Muhammad Zainul Majdi, better known as Tuan Guru Bajang or TGB.
Besides Mr Agus, there is a shortlist of five candidates for Mr Prabowo's running mate, Gerindra has said. They include Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) nominee Ahmad Heryawan, National Mandate Party (PAN) chairman Zulkifli Hasan and Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan, who is not a member of any political party.
Registration for the presidential election will be open from Aug 4 to 10.