Jakarta. Opposition bloc leader Prabowo Subianto on Thursday said the party he founded, the Great Indonesia Movement Party, or Gerindra, was willing to unite with anyone — including members of the ruling coalition — in order to win regional elections scheduled for later this year.
Prabowo, a former Army general who lost last year's presidential race to Joko Widodo, made the statement after United Development Party (PPP) leader Djan Faridz said he was thinking about assigning some PPP politicians to contest the elections under the banner of other parties, including Gerindra.
PPP has been afflicted by a leadership dispute since last year, with one faction under Djan choosing to stick with Gerindra and other parties in the opposition Red-White Coalition (KMP), while a rival camp has jumped ship to the ruling Awesome Indonesia Coalition (KIH), led by Joko's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).
“We're willing to join hands with anyone, from PPP or others. We're even willing to join hands with the Awesome Indonesia Coalition,” Prabowo said after he and several KMP leaders visited Suryadharma Ali, a former PPP chairman now detained in Guntur detention center, South Jakarta.
Suryadharma was named a corruption suspect in May last year over a hajj fund graft scandal, which allegedly took place during his stint as religious affairs minister under former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
Prabowo claimed Gerindra was willing to cooperate with any other parties for the sake of the Indonesian people.
“We'll see how the situation develops. We'll put people's interests above everything else," he said.
"We'll look for the best candidates [for regional leaders] from across the country."
Djan, meanwhile, was quoted as saying on Tuesday: “I've communicated with the Gerindra Party concerning the simultaneous regional head elections and I will present PPP's best members to Gerindra for a possible coalition.”
Djan made the statement amid uncertainty about whether the two rival factions in Indonesia's oldest Islamic-based party will be able to reconcile ahead of the elections.
The PPP isn't the only party facing a leadership dispute that could potentially disrupt its ability to field strong candidates in the elections.
The Golkar Party, Indonesia's oldest political party and another KMP member, has come to an uneasy truce in order to partake in the elections, but a legal battle for control of the party is still being waged.
Golkar, the second-largest party in the current House of Representatives, split in December after both government-backed Agung Laksono and incumbent Aburizal Bakrie claimed to have won the chairmanship.
Both sides have agreed to form a joint team to screen Golkar candidates who will run in the regional elections.
Politicians from the KIH coalition have yet to comment on Prabowo's invitation.
Husni Kamil Manik, the chairman of the General Elections Commission (KPU), said on Wednesday a total of Rp 6.98 trillion (US$527 million) would be allocated from regional budgets to fund the elections, which are due to start to in July.
Indonesia has a total of 537 administrative regions, including 34 provinces.
According to the KPU, local elections will be held at three different times: July, February 2016 and June 2018.
Correction: This story originally said regional elections would take place in December, 2015. According to Indonesia's General Elections Commission, however, regional elections will be held at three different times: July this year, February 2016 and June 2018.