Islamic Scholar Ma'ruf Amin Becomes Jokowi's Running Mate in 2019 Election

Prabowo and Sandiaga Uno announce their bid in the 2019 presidential elections. —Reuters

Prabowo and Sandiaga Uno announce their bid in the 2019 presidential elections. —Reuters

Amin is the influential head of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), who issued a statement condemning Widodo's political ally, the ethnic Chinese Christian former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, as a blasphemer for insulting the Koran in the middle of a heated Jakarta election campaign.

President Widodo picked up senior Islamic cleric Ma'aruf Amin as his running mate while Prabowo chose to partner with Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno, an entrepreneur and deputy governor of Jakarta.

The pair will square off against Prabowo and deputy Jakarta governor Sandiaga Uno, a former businessman and private equity tycoon. "Dr. Ma'ruf Amin", the president told a news conference Thursday with the chairman and secretary general of the governing coalition. Candidates for president and vice president have until Friday to register their nominations.

Gerindra Party leader Prabowo Subianto waves to reporters as he arrives for a meeting with former Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the Yudhoyono's residence in Jakarta, Indonesia August 9, 2018 in this photo taken by Antara Foto.

Changing the political leadership structure ahead of the 2019 presidential elections.

In December past year, Ma'ruf said he regretted the Constitutional Court's decision to reject a petition to criminalise gay sex, calling for a "stern prohibition" of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender activities.

"We will fight for all Indonesian people, whatever their religion, whatever the tribe, whatever the ethnicity, whatever the race", Mr Prabowo said after officially registering his ticket.

An MUI fatwa declaring Ahok's remarks blasphemous bolstered Muslim opposition against him and paved the way for his prosecution. "Generally there is a lot of gloom that the choice has come to this", Loveard said.

Arya Fernandes, a researcher at the Jakarta-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies, said Jokowi had to settle with Ma'ruf because some coalition politicians objected to Mahfud.

The president has been criticized by conservative Muslims for issuing a decree a year ago paving the way for the disbanding of Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, the local branch of an worldwide Islamic organization seeking the establishment of a caliphate through peaceful means.

"What [the government] has worked on for the last four years is evident and not a fiction. Because he is a wise religious figure", Widodo said, as quoted by Reuters.

"But I suspect identity politics won't sell in 2019 because in 2014 he won in spite of it", he said.

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