Headlines

Democratic Party puts succession
talks on hold

A senior member of the Democratic Party is saying that a party congress will not be convened any time soon to elect a new chairman.

The party, currently led by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, has been in disarray over who should replace Anas Urbaningrum, who stepped down as chairman last week after he was named a suspect in the Hambalang scandal by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

Meanwhile, the clock has been ticking for the party to submit a tentative list of its candidates for the elections for the House of Representatives in 2014.

The list must be sent to the General Elections Commission (KPU) with the endorsement of the party’s chairman and secretary-general, according to the 2012 Legislative Elections Law.

Democratic Party leaders have said that they wanted Yudhoyono, the chairman of the party’s supreme assembly, to sign the documents.

Amir Syamsuddin, a senior party official and the law and human rights minister, said that the party would discuss convening a congress and the leadership succession after the KPU ruled on whether Yudhoyono could endorse the list.

“Don’t ask about the extraordinary congress now. What is important is to enact a regulation to fill a legal vacuum,” Amir said after meeting with Yudhoyono and party regional executives in Cikeas, West Java.

The KPU requires political parties to submit a tentative list of legislative candidates by April.

However, commission officials have said that they were unsure if such a list could be accepted from the Democratic Party without the signature of its chairman and secretary-general.

While KPU chief Husni Kamil Malik has asked the Law and Human Rights Ministry to decide on the matter, Amir said that the issue was beyond his authority as minister, suggesting that the commission make a ruling to accommodate the Democratic Party amid its crisis.

Amir said that the KPU should be able to understand that the leadership crisis affecting the Democrats could happen to any party. “I believe that the KPU realizes that there are supposed to be rules that they can make to accommodate current needs,” he said. “There’s no way they can sit still doing nothing while there is a legal vacuum.”

Yudhoyono and his supporters within the party have reportedly been reluctant to convene a national congress before submitting the list on fears that supporters of Anas would control any votes taken, undermining Yudhoyono’s authority as supreme assembly chief.

Anas reportedly has the support of party regional executives and has recruited many of his loyalists as legislative candidates, sparking friction with Yudhoyono’s supporters, who, before Anas was charged by the KPK and resigned, called for his ouster. Supporters of Anas have voiced concern that the current legislative candidate list might be changed.

Yudhoyono is currently de facto leader of the party and his supporters have been appointed as members of the interim collective leadership of the party following the resignation of Anas.

Four senior Democratic Party politicians — deputy chairmen Max Sopacua and Jhonny Alen Marbun, secretary-general Edhie “Ibas” Baskoro Yudhoyono and executive director Toto Riyanto — will be in charge when an extraordinary party congress is convened to elect a new chairman.

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