Former Jakarta Governor Ahok Joins Indonesia’s Ruling Party

02/11/2019 Indonesia (International Christian Concern) – On February 8, the recently released former Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama announced his membership to the political party of President Joko Widodo.

Mr. Basuki, commonly known by his Chinese nickname Ahok, only gained freedom last month after serving nearly two years on blasphemy charges. The fact that he has joined the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the majority party in Parliament, makes people wonder whether he would be campaigning for Jokowi, his close ally who is seeking re-election in two months. Earlier speculation also suggests that he might be back to Indonesia’s political scene.

According to The Strait Times, active campaigning by Ahok could hamper, not help, the President’s campaign. This is because Ahok, a Chinese-Christian politician, is an easy target for Islamic conservatives and hardliners, a group largely seen as being against the re-election of Jokowi.

The former governor was found guilty of blasphemy for a comment he made, after referencing a verse from the Qur’an while campaigning for re-election in September of 2016. Angry religious conservatives took to the streets to protest and eventually sent him to jail.

As the first elected Jakarta governor who was not only Chinese but also Christian in a Muslim-majority country, his next steps are closely watched by many. However, PDI-P Secretary General Hasto Kristiyanto said that Ahok will not be involved in the ongoing presidential campaign due to personal matters. He plans to wed his girlfriend and go abroad for a few months.

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