June 28, 2014
Officials with the Prabowo Subianto-Hatta Rajasa presidential ticket continue to refute reports that the campaign's multi-party coalition accepted an endorsement from hard-line group, the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI).
On May 26th, FPI Chairman Habib Rizieq Shihab announced that the organisation was backing Prabowo and Hatta in the July 9th election because of its support for four Islamic parties in their Red and White Coalition.
The FPI is known for staging violent street protests and fomenting tensions with religious minorities such as the Ahmadiyah sect.
Prabowo and some coalition officials have made contradictory statements about the campaign's position toward FPI, other coalition leaders have since gone on record to reject the group's endorsement.
"We cannot stop anyone who is willing to support us in this election," campaign manager Mahfud MD told a Jakarta news conference June 1st. "However, our commitment is clear that we will not use any violence in these democratic processes."
Five days later, Hashim Djojohadikusomo, vice chairman of the coalition's board of trustees, stated the coalition's stance clearly.
"Our mission is to win for the betterment of Indonesia. We want to improve our economy and tolerance. FPI will never be part of the coalition," he told reporters at the local Foreign Correspondents Club.
"FPI is not, and will never be, part of our team. If there is any statement [to that effect], it must [have been] misquoted by the Indonesian media," Hashim added.
The latest public statements from coalition officials differed from those made earlier by Prabowo himself and Bara Hasibuan, the campaign's spokesman.
"All mass organisations must be embraced, including the FPI," a May 31st article in the Jakarta Globe quoted the presidential candidate as having said late last month.
And on June 8th, Bara, Hatta's National Mandate Party (PAN)-- one of the four coalition Islamic parties-- said he was misquoted about whether it welcomed the FPI's endorsement.
"I have no comment on the coalition's ties with or support from the FPI and like-minded groups. We never condone violence," the Globe quoted Bara as saying.
Meanwhile, Indonesians who witnessed violence fomented by FPI and its supporters, criticised the hard-line group's endorsement of the Prabowo-Hatta ticket.
"We will not choose Prabowo-Hatta if they include FPI in their coalition. People in Kendal are still bitter with FPI. They are arrogant and violent," said Wati Nuriah, a resident of Kendal, Central Java. Wati witnessed FPI-linked violence in July 2013 that resulted in the killing of an elementary school teacher.