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Democratic Party politicians
ponder post-Anas scenario

Democratic Party politicians, especially rivals to chairman Anas Urbaningrum, have started to prepare themselves for an incoming powerplay that is expected in the event that Anas departs his post.

Some senior party members confirmed on Monday that talks on Anas’ future within the party had continued to intensify, with many concluding Anas’ chairmanship was in peril.

Analysts suggested Anas could be going through his last days as party chairman, especially after speculation that the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) would name him a suspect in a graft case.

A copy of a document thought to be a KPK “letter ordering the start of an investigation” circulated widely over the weekend, giving credence to speculation that Anas would soon be named a suspect in a graft case centering on the construction of the Rp 1.17 trillion (US$121.62 million) Hambalang sports complex in Bogor, West Java.

While the KPK has officially declined to confirm the document’s authenticity, a copy of the letter obtained by The Jakarta Post shows that three out of five KPK leaders have signed off the naming of Anas as a suspect.

Johan said on Monday that the KPK’s internal monitoring division was investigating the authenticity of the “document” and was looking for those responsible for leaking it.

Meanwhile, within the Democratic Party the names of many politicians began to emerge as possible interim replacements for Anas.

Among those mentioned were Edhie “Ibas” Baskoro Yudhoyono, the party’s secretary general and son of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono; Gen. Pramono Edhie Wibowo, the Army chief of staff and Yudhoyono’s in law, and Soekarwo, East Java governor and a member of the party’s board of patrons.

“Ibas will be appointed as an acting chairman,” senior Democratic Party member Ruhut Sitompul said.

Another patron, Marzuki Alie, who is also the House of Representatives speaker, denied the speculation, saying the chances of Ibas replacing Anas were slim.

“Anas is still our chairman. The High Council’s decision was not to oust Anas but to help him accomplish his tasks in this difficult situation. All of us in the party know what’s going on but have agreed not to respond to such rumors,”
Marzuki told reporters.

A senior party member confirmed that Pramono was one of the figures tapped to lead the party in the event of Anas’ departure.

“A party mechanism has been set up to elect Pramono after he retires from his military position in June,” the source said.

Pramono declined to comment on those prospects and said he was focusing on nothing but his current job until his retirement.

“No one has talked to me. Anyway, I want to do my best approaching my retirement,” he said on the sidelines of a meeting with lawmakers from the House Commission I on defense, earlier last week.

According to the party’s statute, should Anas be named a suspect by the KPK, he must stand before an internal tribunal administered by the party’s honorary council.

The integrity pact signed by 33 leaders of provincial branches at Yudhoyono’s home in Cikeas on Sunday, also included a pledge that the signatories must be willing to resign from the party structure at all levels should he or she be named a suspect for committing criminal acts including corruption, drug abuse and terrorism.

The naming of an interim chairman would prepare for the KPK’s move to name Anas a suspect. Following this change, an extraordinary party congress must commence to elect a new, permanent chairman of the party, but analysts said Anas could maintain his leadership within the party.

“I think Anas has openly challenged the President because he believes that he has been ill-advised by those around him. Anas will keep on fighting and will likely bring everyone down with him,” said political analyst Tjipta Lesmana of the University of Indonesia.

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