No hard feelings about Jokowi’s decision: Mahfud MD

JAKARTA (The Jakarta Post/ANN) - Former Constitutional Court chief justice Mahfud MD accepted and understood President Joko Widodo's decision to not pick him as a running mate for next year's election.

Former Constitutional Court chief justice Mahfud MD said he did not feel hurt by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo's decision to pick Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) chairman Ma'ruf Amin as Jokowi’s running mate for the 2019 presidential election instead of him.

On Thursday, TV stations prepared drafts of Mahfud's profile, as well as posters of him and Jokowi to promote their live coverage of the much anticipated announcement slated for Thursday afternoon in Plataran restaurant in Central Jakarta. Mahfud was reportedly waiting at a cafe near the restaurant in the afternoon. However, in a surprise announcement Thursday evening, Jokowi said Ma’ruf was his running mate.

Mahfud began his series of tweets with an apology for not being able to reply to all the messages sent to him since yesterday evening.

“I apologize and thank whoever sent me messages, questions and sympathy regarding Jokowi’s decision on Ma’ruf Amin as his VP. There are thousands of WhatsApp chats, SMS, Twitter, etc. I apologize because I can only read them without replying to them one by one.”

Mahfud said he had met personally with Jokowi and told the President not to feel guilty about it.

“Pak Jokowi’s decision is inevitable in the reality of politics. I am shocked but I’m not hurt. I have met personally with Pak Jokowi. I understand the decision was inevitable. I said, Pak Jokowi, no need to feel guilty. That was his right to decide for the best.”

Mahfud ended his statement by persuading all Indonesian people to respect the decision, putting aside names for the good of the country.

"What's more important is the Republic of Indonesia is well maintained. It is much more important than the name of Mahfud MD and Ma'ruf Amin. In my religion, my friends and I have tried, but God has another plan."

Mahfud’s name had been floating among the top names considered as Jokowi's potential running mate, but speculation about his candidacy peaked on Wednesday, following a Twitter post made by United Development Party (PPP) chairman M. Romahurmuziy.

Romahurmuziy suggested that Jokowi's running mate would have the widest experience in every branch of government and represent the largest Islamic organization in Indonesia, the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU).

National Awakening Party (PKB) secretary-general Abdul Kadir Karding confirmed on Thursday that Mahfud was among the strongest names considered to run as Jokowi's running mate. "Yes, [Mahfud] is one of them," he said.

However, there was a turnaround when Jokowi announced Ma’ruf on Thursday afternoon as his running mate. In terms of influence among Muslim voters, Ma’ruf is seen as being more representative of the NU than Mahfud, who is often described as only “culturally” involved in the NU.

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