Aburizal meets Kalla to parade unity
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In the presence of his predecessor, former vice president Jusuf Kalla, Golkar Party chairman Aburizal Bakrie boasted that he could maintain party unity and that there was no internal rift in the party ahead of the 2014 elections.
Aburizal, Golkar’s presidential candidate, faces a rocky road in the 2014 presidential election after meeting opposition from party members who believe that Kalla has a better chance of success than him.
“I fully believe that Golkar is unshakable and impenetrable. I believe party leaders stand united and couldn’t be turned against each other,” Aburizal said at a buka puasa (breaking the fast event) at Golkar’s headquarters in Slipi, West Jakarta.
It was the first time Aburizal and Kalla had been seen publicly in a Golkar forum since Aburizal took over the party leadership in 2009.
When given a chance to speak, Kalla launched a veiled attack on Aburizal’s efforts to silence opposition in the party. He said Golkar should be democratic in order to make it relevant in the democratic environment.
“We should decide everything with democracy as the sole device,” he said.
He then said that during his tenure as party chairman, he had given everyone in the party the chance to weigh in on the party’s strategic
When asked if the present-day Golkar was less democratic, Kalla only smiled and said, “Go figure it out yourself.”
The Monday’s forum was believed to be part of Aburizal’s effort to give the impression that the party was united behind him.
Golkar’s chairman of the board of advisors, Akbar Tandjung, had also earlier insisted that Kalla was more popular than Aburizal.
After intense lobbying, Akbar finally gave his support to Aburizal.
Akbar, who was scheduled to attend the Monday function, did not show up, sparking a speculation that he did not want to confront both Aburizal and Kalla in the same spot.
Golkar has officially nominated Aburizal as its candidate for the 2014 presidential election at an official declaration held in Bogor, West Java, earlier this month.
Analysts have said that the early nomination was part of Aburizal’s ploy to defuse internal rifts.
Aburizal is believed to have been aware that his candidacy could be encumbered by numerous problems including the Lapindo mudflow disaster in Sidoarjo, East Java.
In spite of Aburizal’s nomination, members of the party question Aburizal’s electability in the 2014 poll.
Some leaders at the regional level have also challenged Aburizal’s leadearship.
Muntasir Hamid, the chairman of the Forum of Golkar Party Regional Branches, has claimed that at least 232 Golkar officials at regional level plan to quit due to Aburizal’s “authoritarian leadership”.
Aburizal vowed that he would take severe disciplinary action against members who challenge his candidacy. He also warned that Kalla could be expelled for his refusal to comply with the party decision.