Jakarta. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has declared his support for Prabowo Subianto's candidacy in next year's presidential election following a second meeting between the two political party leaders on Monday (30/07).
The meeting also saw Yudhoyono's Democratic Party and Prabowo's Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) agree to form a coalition.
"We came with one mutual understanding: to support Prabowo as our 2019 presidential candidate," Yudhoyono told reporters after a three-hour meeting at the Gerindra chairman's home in South Jakarta.
Prabowo said he and Yudhoyono held intensive discussions on various topics, including his potential running mate in the upcoming election.
"We agree to establish a coalition and to invite other parties to join," Prabowo said, adding that Yudhoyono did not demand the right to choose a vice-presidential candidate.
"Within 10 days, we are going to hold an intensive meeting and carefully examine the vice-presidential candidates," Prabowo said.
With the looming Aug. 10 registration deadline for presidential and vice-presidential candidates, parties have been stepping up their search for potential coalitions.
Prabowo and Yudhoyono previously met at the former president's home in Kuningan, South Jakarta, on July 27.
After his meeting with Prabowo, the Democratic Party chairman also met with National Conscience Party (PAN) chairman Zulkifli Hasan.
While Gerindra has officially endorsed Prabowo as its presidential candidate, PAN and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) are still undecided, which means the retired Army general has yet to exceed the threshold of support for his candidacy by 20 percent of seats in the House of Representatives.
There has been no official statement yet regarding PAN's involvement in the coalition, but its chairman has hinted at the possibility of joining the pro-government coalition.
"I have not yet closed the door [to joining President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's coalition]; there is still [another] possibility," Zulkifli said at the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
"Each political party has its own interests, aspirations and issues for which it fights. This is the process, we will decide this later," he added.
Zulkifli said PAN will only decide which coalition to join once Jokowi and Prabowo have announced their running mates.
However, he denied accusations that PAN has been playing the two sides off against each other, saying that he is currently still exploring potential opportunities.
Jokowi has meanwhile been endorsed as presidential candidate by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), Golkar Party, United Development Party (PPP), People's Conscience Party (Hanura), National Democratic Party (NasDem) and National Awakening Party (PKB).
Yudhoyono said his strained relationship with PDI-P chairwoman Megawati Sukarnoputri prevented the Democratic Party from pursuing a coalition with the ruling party, despite his respect for Jokowi.
"For more than 10 years, I've been trying to communicate with Megawati. Taufik Kiemas [Megawati's late husband] was my best friend and was also trying to improve our relationship. There's been the intention [to improve the relationship], but it's only God's will," Yudhoyono said.