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Faction in Indonesia's Golkar party plotting to unseat chairman

Publication Date : 17-04-2014

 

A faction of Indonesia's Golkar Party members disappointed with how party chairman Aburizal Bakrie has been handling coalition-building negotiations ahead of the July 9 presidential election may attempt to unseat the chairman at the party’s upcoming national executive meeting.

The May 3 meeting was originally meant to focus on selecting a running mate for declared presidential nominee Aburizal and on discussing coalition partners to support the ticket, said deputy chairman Agung Laksono on Wednesday.

A faction of dissatisfied members, however, were said to be planning to file a motion of no-confidence against Aburizal, based especially on the party’s poor showing in the April 9 legislative election.

Golkar had targeted to win 30 per cent of the popular vote in the election, but quick counts have it securing not even half that figure.

Some party members said Golkar’s underwhelming performance would be used as a pretext to unseat Aburizal, whose term will expire only in 2015, as agreed in the party’s national congress in 2009.

The chairman of the party’s advisory council, Akbar Tandjung, is believed to be leading the charge.

The 68-year-old politician, who was Golkar chairman from 1998 to 2004, has openly criticised Aburizal’s leadership. He has also publicly stated his intention to run for vice president on a rival party’s ticket, despite charges from fellow Golkar members it would be unethical.

Akbar, however, denied there would be a move against Aburizal at the upcoming executive meeting.

“The next meeting will not be the appropriate forum to unseat a party chairman. According to party statute, only a national congress can facilitate a chairmanship succession. The main spirit is to question the party’s failure in reaching the legislative election target,” he said.

“However, a recommendation to hold a congress sooner than previously planned can be issued in the executive meeting.”

A known confidant of Akbar’s within Golkar, who wished to remain anonymous, said the former chairman had begun seeking support from Golkar regional branches for a move against Aburizal.

“Akbar’s camp controls almost 80 per cent of Golkar chapters in regencies and municipalities,” the source claimed.

The source suggested a possible strategy for unseating Aburizal was challenging the legality of his term running from 2009 to 2015, as the party’s statute stipulates only a five-year chairmanship tenure.

“A congress decision must not violate party statute. If a contradiction exists, statute must always prevail,” the source said.

Akbar’s deputy on the advisory council and one of his strongest rivals, Luhut Panjaitan, said Aburizal’s term could exceed five years.

“It was decided at a congress in the presence of the party. Everybody agreed that there would be many political motives related to elections in 2014, so it would be unwise for the party to make any internal strategic changes this year,” Luhut said.

Meanwhile, Aburizal recently said he was aware of the plot, but remained unconcerned, saying all Golkar executives had committed to uphold the decision made in the 2009 congress.

“Some have said they were ready to be my successor but all of them are also committed to wait until my tenure officially ends in 2015,” Aburizal said, emphasising that he would not step down before his term ended.

 

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