Indonesia's former ruling party Golkar has chosen an alleged war criminal, General Wiranto, to run for president.
Gen Wiranto has promised strong leadership
He has been indicted for war crimes for his role in the crackdown on the independence movement in East Timor, but remains popular across Indonesia.
"Wiranto must stand trial, not stand for office," said the East Timor Action Network, a US-based rights group.
The BBC's Rachel Harvey in Jakarta says there will be a close fight in the presidential poll in July.
Golkar held power for three decades and is set to be the largest force in parliament after this month's election.
But so far polls suggest Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, from the little-known Democrat Party, is the front-runner in the presidential race, followed by current incumbent Megawati Sukarnoputri.
Gen Wiranto beat the apparent frontrunner, Akbar Tanjung, for his party's nomination.
Mr Tanjung fought a lengthy legal battle which saw him cleared of charges that he embezzled millions of dollars of state aid, and was ahead in the first round of voting.
But Gen Wiranto, the last military chief during former President Suharto's autocratic rule, came top in a second-round run-off at a marathon meeting of party officials which lasted 14 hours.
Wiranto will face President Megawati and ex-security chief Susilo
Our correspondent says the retired general has spent much of the past few months travelling round the country drumming up support for his presidential bid, while Mr Tanjung was busy fighting the corruption charges.
She says Gen Wiranto's promise of strong leadership and the fact that he comes from outside normal political circles appears to have helped his cause.
His next test will come on 5 July, in what is expected to be a hotly contested vote for president - the first time Indonesians have had a direct say in appointing their leader.
Human rights groups have reacted angrily to the news of Gen Wiranto's candidacy.
Munir, who heads Jakarta's Imparsial organisation, said it was a "serious setback to the cause of human rights in Indonesia."
Gen Wiranto's past could also cause problems with foreign governments, should he be successful in his presidential bid.
He is accused of crimes against humanity for failing to stop the violence which marred East Timor's transition to independence from Indonesia.
Indicted by prosecutors in East Timor over 1999 violence
But Indonesia highly unlikely to hand him over to face trial
Few Indonesians believe the allegations against him
Wiranto denies any wrongdoing
More than 1,000 people were killed in the lead up to and after the 1999 vote, in violence blamed on militias linked to the Indonesian military.
"It's going to be
very delicate for Indonesia to handle in the unlikely event that
Wiranto would win," said East Timor's foreign minister, Jose Ramos Horta.
But according to analysts, those concerned at the prospect of an alleged war criminal becoming head of state need not panic just yet.
"The real battle now is between Megawati and Wiranto
jostling for the number two position," said
Muhammad Qodari, research director of the Indonesian Survey
Institute, told Reuters news agency.