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    May 14, 2014

    Jokowi tightens grip on presidential race


    JAKARTA governor Joko "Jokowi" Widodo received a significant boost to his chances of becoming leader of the world's third-biggest democracy after securing support from the country's No. 2 political party.

    "This is a step towards a coalition," business tycoon and head of the Golkar party, Aburizal Bakrie, told reporters at a local market in the capital where the two leaders met.

    "Later, of course, if we can form a coalition, we will support Mr Jokowi to become president," he said.

    Mr Joko's Indonesian Democratic Party - Struggle (PDI-P) came first last month but failed to win enough seats to meet the threshold to nominate a president by itself.

    He is already well ahead in opinion polls to win on July 9 and has the backing of two other parties.

    Golkar came second in the parliamentary election.

    With the addition of Golkar, the parties supporting Mr Joko would represent 49.44 per cent of the national vote in last month's parliamentary election.

    "Golkar has already said that they will support PDI-P and Jokowi as president. Them (Bakrie and Jokowi) standing together in that market is a symbol that the coalition is happening," senior Golkar official David Tampubolon told Reuters. "We will make another announcement about the official coalition after our (party meeting) on May 17."

    Mr Joko told reporters that the agreement did not mean any deal had been cut on his running mate.

    The announcement came shortly after Mr Joko's main rival, former general Prabowo Subianto, told reporters that he had chosen chief economic minister Hatta Rajasa as his running mate. Mr Rajasa is head of the moderate Islamic PAN party.