The Jakarta Post
Opposition to the nomination as presidential candidate of the Golkar Party chairman Aburizal Bakrie is gathering momentum within his own party. Disquiet at the plan has been voiced in the party’s branches in Sumatra, Java and the country’s eastern region.
Chairman of Golkar’s Aceh provincial chapter Sulaiman Abda said that he was one of several provincial party leaders who had declined to support Aburizal’s presidential nomination and he trusted leaders from municipal branches to make the right decision.
“After listening to growing unease in the province, most leaders at the regency and municipality level are opposed to the party’s plan to hold the special leadership meeting because there is no strong reason to make such a decision.
The provincial chapter has allowed local party leaders to decide upon who truly represents the party’s grass roots as presidential hopeful because they are closer to our core support,” he told The Jakarta Post by telephone on Sunday.
The caucus for the party’s provincial and local councilors in North Sumatra also expressed their opposition to Aburizal’s presidential bid, saying local party leaders and members favored former House speaker Akbar Tandjung.
Caucus chairman Usman Melayu said most party members favored Akbar because he was popular with the party’s base and had done a lot for the party. “Banners erected in strategic locations in the province are a strong signal of the increasing support for Akbar,” he said.
He said the caucus’ support for Akbar would be forwarded to a provincial party meeting held from May 5-7, in Padang, West Sumatra.
Previously, Aburizal had announced that his party had decided to hold a special leadership meeting expected to unanimously nominate him as Golkar’s sole presidential candidate.
The decision met with strong opposition from the party’s senior figures which prompted Aburizal to make a promise about holding dialogue.
Akbar said that Aburizal was not the only senior politician that could be nominated as the party presidential hopeful.
“As a big and mature party, Golkar has many senior figures, besides him, who have the capacity, track-record and strong leadership needed for the presidency. It needs a democratic mechanism to select the one most suitable and most attractive to voters,” Akbar told the Post.
Akbar was referring to himself, former vice president Jusuf Kalla, Deputy House Speaker Priyo Budi Santoso, Yogyakarta Governor Sultan Hamengkubuwono X among others.
Akbar lauded Aburizal’s plan to hold a dialogue with senior party politicians but he urged Aburizal to abide by the party’s constitution.
He said he would fully stand behind Aburizal’s presidential bid if it was decided according to the party’s statutes.
Meanwhile, senior Golkar politician and former minister of justice and human rights, Andi Mattalatta, said party leaders from the country’s eastern region had yet to decide on whether they would support Aburizal or another figure in the party.
“Kalla seems more popular than Aburizal in the region. But it will depend on the special leadership meeting. Transparency is better than political machinations,” he said.
Yorrys Raweyai, chair of the Golkar-affiliated mass organization AMPI, concurred with Andi, saying that the special leadership meeting should not automatically nominate Aburizal as presidential candidate but to set the mechanism on how to select the candidate.
Yorrys confirmed that support for Jusuf Kalla was still strong in the country’s eastern region, especially Sulawesi, Maluku and Papua.