Kalla Denies Planning To Run For President
By: Roy Tupai | Category: Politics
October, 20 2005 @ 04:03 am
With President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono receiving generally positive assessments of his first year in office, Vice President Jusuf Kalla has emphatically denied a report that he intends to run for the presidency in 2009.
A report by Agence France-Presse on Wednesday (19/10/05) said Kalla had told state news agency Antara that he will run for the presidency as a candidate of Golkar, the country's largest political party.
The report said Kalla (63), a powerful businessman, has had a stronger political base than Yudhoyono (56) since becoming chairman of Golkar last December. Yudhoyono is backed by the Democrat Party, which came fifth in last year's general election.
"As a Golkar cadre, I have the rights to be elected and I will put my candidacy forward with the consent of the president. It will be impossible without the president's consent," Kalla was quoted as telling Antara in an interview on Tuesday.
The report said Kalla dismissed speculation that his relationship with Yudhoyono had become strained since they took office on October 20, 2004, after a landslide victory over former president Megawati Sukarnoputri and her running mate Hasyim Muzadi. "Remain assured that I want to undertake my stately duties seriously," he said.
Kalla said the AFP report had misconstrued his comments. He claimed he had actually stated that he would be willing to run for the chairmanship of Golkar, not the presidency, in 2009.
"Once again, as I have already clarified with Antara News
agency, that is not at all true," he told reporters at a fast-breaking event at the vice presidential palace in Central Jakarta.
"Regarding the question about Golkar, I said I am the chairman of Golkar. With the president's permission, I would contest the Golkar chairmanship in 2009. That is really quite different," he said.
In fact, most of the interview was about the rumors of poor relations between Yudhoyono and Kalla. After insisting that everything was all right, Kalla was then asked whether the composition of the national leadership would remain intact until 2009. He replied that it was his "constitutional duty".
The next question posed to Kalla was: "Is Bapak (Sir) convinced he will be 'be safe' up until 2009?". Kalla's reply was: "God-willing, with prayer. I want to reiterate: As Golkar, that is my duty. As a Golkar cadre, I have the right to be elected and put myself forward. And I cannot advance without the president's permission."
Two slightly different versions of the Antara interview can be read online. The first is via detikcom, which says it obtained a transcript of the interview from a recording from the palace. The second is Antara's clarification of the interview, which contains editorial notes in parentheses just ensure that everyone knows Kalla was talking about the Golkar leadership and not the presidency:
"I have the right to be elected (as Golkar General Chairman in the Golkar National Congress in Bali December 2004, ed) and I put forward myself (as the candidate Golkar General Chairman at that time) but also with the President's permission, it was not possible without the President's permission."
Yudhoyono and Kalla both served as senior ministers in Megawati's cabinet but resigned ahead of last year's two-round presidential election. Less than two weeks before his resignation, Yudhoyono had complained to the media that he was being sidelined from key cabinet meetings. Megawati's businessman husband Taufik Kiemas responded by saying Yudhoyono was being "childish". Nine days later, Yudhoyono submitted his resignation and his public popularity soared.
The two put aside their enmity last month at a meeting in Palembang, South Sumatra province, with Yudhoyono praising Kiemas as a national figure who had done much to promote development. More recently, Yudhoyono on Tuesday visited Kiemas at Jakarta's Harapan Kita Cardiac Hospital, where the latter is being treated for heart trouble. Despite patching up his differences with Kiemas, Yudhoyono has not yet been able to reconcile with Megawati. She has pointedly refused to meet with him since losing the presidency.