PDI-P politician says Ahok welcome to join party upon release from prison

Indonesian protesters chant in front of a poster of Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known by his nickname Ahok, as they march down the capital city’s main street after a demonstration at Jakarta’s National Monument Park on December 2, 2016. More than 100,000 Indonesian Muslims protested on December 2, 2016 against Jakarta’s Christian governor, the second major demonstration in a matter of weeks as conservative groups push for his arrest on accusations of insulting Islam. GOH CHAI HIN / AFP
Indonesian protesters chant in front of a poster of Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known by his nickname Ahok, as they march down the capital city’s main street after a demonstration at Jakarta’s National Monument Park on December 2, 2016. More than 100,000 Indonesian Muslims protested on December 2, 2016 against Jakarta’s Christian governor, the second major demonstration in a matter of weeks as conservative groups push for his arrest on accusations of insulting Islam. GOH CHAI HIN / AFP

As former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama nears the end of his two-year prison sentence for blasphemy, one question remains unanswered: will he return to politics?

PDI-P, of which long-time Ahok ally President Joko Widodo is a cadre, seems interested in Ahok joining the political party upon his release. In fact, one PDI-P politician said that the party plans on formally inviting the controversial politician to officially become a party cadre.

“That is for certain (the invitation), but the decision lies with Ahok,” Jakarta City Council PDI-P Fraction Deputy Chairman Pantas Nainggolan told Okezone today.

Pantas added that, although no invitation for Ahok has been formally extended yet, he believes that the party’s elites have been in constant communication with the former governor while he’s been in prison.

Ahok, who is currently not a member of any political party, has a friendly history with PDI-P and a rather hostile one with its main opposition rival party, Gerindra. Ahok was a Gerindra cadre when he was elected as Jakarta vice governor under then-Governor Joko Widodo in 2012, but he soon quit the party over ideological differences.

For the 2017 gubernatorial election, Ahok was initially going to run as an independent candidate but he and his volunteers had numerous bureaucratic hurdles thrown at them, ultimately preventing Ahok from achieving what would have been a historic first for Indonesian democracy. He eventually accepted PDI-P’s nomination, only to become embroiled in a trumped-up blasphemy scandal for which he was sentenced to two years in prison in May 2017.

According to Ahok’s lawyer and sister, Fifi Lety Tjahaja Purnama, Ahok reportedly received a two-month remission for his sentence meaning he will be released from prison on January 24, 2019.

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