Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has said that he would pick up another running mate in the upcoming presidential election following the declaration of Vice President Jusuf Kalla as presidential candidate in the poll, a local newspaper said here Monday.
President Susilo was quoted by the Jakarta Post as saying that it would be impossible for them to contest the July presidential election as a duo.
"Six months ago I said it was very possible Kalla and I would remain a pair [in the upcoming presidential elections]. There was about a 70 percent possibility of that," said Susilo.
"But look at the recent political dynamics. Golkar wants to support its own presidential candidate, and Kalla has declared himself as that candidate. I would have been very embarrassed had I said I would surely pair up with him again," Yudhoyono said.
He said, however, he could not yet announce the name of his running mate for the July presidential elections because he would not "clap with one hand".
The president said he would seek a running mate who had "good integrity", "good capacity", and preferably "good chemistry", though he refused to mention any names.
Kalla said after meeting with 28 Golkar provincial leaders in Yogyakarta on Saturday that his candidacy had reached a point of no return.
The vice president visited the East Java town of Pasuruan on Sunday to hold a closed-door meeting with 40 Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) influential clerics at Raudlatul Ulum Islamic boarding school. East Java Deputy Governor Saifullah Yusuf in his capacity as NU youth wing Anshor was excluded from the two-hour meeting. Spokesman for the clerics Anwar Iskandar dismissed speculation that the meeting discussed Kalla's presidential bid.
A number of surveys have found Kalla's elect ability is far lower than other candidates, even than fellow Golkar member Sultan Hamengkubuwono X.
Shrugging off these predictions, Kalla has lobbied a number of political parties and leaders for support, including the leader of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and former president Megawati Soekarnoputri, whom he met with last Thursday. The two party leaders signed an agreement but avoided committing to a coalition.
Susilo said he was unperturbed by the highly anticipated meeting between the leaders of the country's two largest parties, saying it was simply the nature of politics.
The president said he would be meeting Megawati for the sake of maintaining silaturahim (good relationship) if she wished to engage in dialogue.