Yudhoyono's brother-in-law joins Dems, raises speculation

Jakarta (The Jakarta Post/ANN) - The Democratic Party has approved the membership of former Indonesian Army chief Gen. (ret.) Pramono Edhie Wibowo, who is also the brother-in-law of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a move which could pave the way for him to be nominated as the party's presidential candidate.

The party's central executive board chairman EE Mangindaan said on Saturday that Pramono, who had been on the board for only four days, could be a strong figure for the party given his extensive experience in the army.

"We haven't discussed who will be on our presidential candidate list. We are very open to anyone and I think Pramono is a very good figure who can contribute a lot of ideas to the party and maintain our political values," Mangindaan told reporters on the sidelines of a national party meeting on Saturday.

It has been speculated that Pramono, the younger brother of First Lady Ani Yudhoyono, was being groomed by Yudhoyono to succeed him as part of the President's efforts to secure his and his family's interests after his second term in office ends in 2014.

Pramono, who retired from his military career in May, previously said he would spend more time with his family.

The former army chief, however, first has to compete in a presidential primary, which is slated for September at the latest. He will have to compete against other prominent figures who have conveyed an interest in participating in the primary. Among them are Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan, former constitutional court chief justice Mahfud MD and Regional Representatives Council (DPD) chairman Irman Gusman.

House of Representatives Speaker Marzuki Alie, who is also the deputy chairman of the party's supreme assembly, has announced he will not join the race in the primary.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party executive chairman Syarief Hasan said the conditions and requirements for individuals wishing to join the primary had not yet been decided and the Saturday meeting barely discussed the primary.

"The President, as the party chairman, will announce the requirements for the would-be candidates next week, maybe in the next two days. One of the requirements, I think, would be that he or she must be a popular figure and has served as a minister or other position at a similar level," he said.

The national meeting, which was attended by hundreds of the party's delegations from across the country, was aimed to discuss strategies to win the 2014 legislative election.

A number of pollsters have predicted the Democratic Party will suffer a slump in the 2014 election, due to the graft allegations leveled against its politicians.

The party leadership, however, is upbeat over the future.

"What we have and other parties do not have is President Yudhoyono. What we have been doing is for the people. With the issues facing us now, we target to achieve 15 percent of votes in the next legislative election," said the party's secretary-general Edhie "Ibas" Baskoro Yudhoyono.

Based on recent surveys conducted by the state-run Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) among 1,799 voters nationwide, the party, which won the 2009 legislative election, is losing its popularity among voters. The party only recorded 11.1 percent of the total 1,799 pollsters, lower than the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) with 14.9 percent and Golkar party with 14.5 percent.

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