Volunteer group says Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan 'right man' to be president

Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan 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.
Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan 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.PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA - 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 the words Aliansi Nasional Indonesia Sejahtera, which means the National Alliance for a Prosperous Indonesia - the group held its first public event in Jakarta on Friday (July 6).

Speaking to a crowd of about 150 people at the Gedong Joang 45 museum, the group's spokesman 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 suspending a disputed land reclamation project started by the central government north of the capital, and providing 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, including various social and political activists, and an utadz, 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 of 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.

Political analyst Arya Fernandes told The Straits Times that with Mr Joko and his likeliest rival Prabowo Subianto yet to announce their runing mates, "manoeuvres from such groups will naturally intensify".