Megawati with Muzadi (Reuters)
Lagging in the polls, Indonesia’s Megawati is playing the religious card. From Reuters, with thanks to Andy:
JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri on Thursday chose the leader of the country’s largest Muslim group as vice presidential candidate on her ticket for the July 5 election.
The choice of Hasyim Muzadi, chairman of the moderate, 40-million-strong Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), is seen as an effort to boost Megawati’s waning popularity after her party, the secular Indonesia Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P), lost significant ground in April 5 parliamentary elections. …
Megawati faces a tough battle in the July 5 presidential election against former security minister and ex-general Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who has been topping opinion polls, and former military chief Wiranto who is the nominee of the Golkar party that did best in the parliamentary elections.
Cleric Muzadi was upbeat during his turn at the lectern.
“Nahdlatul Ulama has no plan to set up a religious state but it wants to see religious values shine across this country,” he said, adding that Megawati first courted him six months ago.
“The combination of me and Megawati will unite ‘freedom’ and ‘God is Greatest’. The two should not be on different sides,” said Muzadi, referring to the respective rallying cries of the nationalist and Islamic camps.
Before the announcement, PDI-P deputy chairman Roy Janis said the choice of Muzadi was aimed at bringing solid Muslim credentials to Megawati’s re-election bid. Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim country.