The Jakarta Post
A United Development Party (PPP) official denied on Thursday a report saying that the Islamic-based party had dismissed a number of the party's senior members for challenging the leadership of party chairman Suryadharma Ali following his attendance at a recent Gerindra Party rally.
PPP secretary-general Romahurmuziy said the party had not issued any dismissal letters in the past months and would reconcile any dissenting opinions within the party in a peaceful manner.
'The PPP's statutes stipulate that a certain procedure should be taken in relation to the dismissal of party members, which include [the issuance of] three warning letters, suspension and a party executive meeting [to discuss the dismissal].
'I can assure you that none of those procedures has been taken. If there is any[dismissal] document circulating, it must be a fake and we cannot be held responsible,' he said.
On Wednesday, PPP lawmaker and deputy secretary-general Syaifullah Tamliha claimed that Suryadharma had officially stripped deputy chairman Suharso Monoarfa, as well as leaders of the party's provincial branches in West Java, East Java, North Sumatra, South Sulawesi and Central Kalimantan, of their positions, for initiating a movement to topple Suryadharma.
Suryadharma, who is also the religious affairs minister, met mounting calls for him to step down from a group of party officials following his 'unauthorized' participation in a major Gerindra rally at Bung Karno Stadium last month. During the event, he publicly expressed his support for the Gerindra leader Prabowo Subianto's presidential bid.
PPP deputy chairman Emron Pangkapi, for example, said Suryadharma's move went against the decision of the party's recent national meeting in Bandung, West Java, which rejected supporting Gerindra's Prabowo in the upcoming presidential elections.
University of Indonesia (UI) Islamic studies expert Yon Machmudi said Suryadharma's premature approach to Gerindra had created a widespread assumption that he had a personal political agenda even before the legislative election took place.
'The PPP enjoyed an increase in public support in the April 9 legislative election largely due to the hard work of party members at the local level so it is understandable to see leaders of many PPP branches disappointed by the way Suryadharma took advantage of the party's achievement to allegedly make a personal political deal with Gerindra,' he said.
Many quick counts suggest that the PPP secured between 6 and 7 percent of the vote in the April 9 legislative election, a slight increase on its 5.3 percent in the 2009 legislative election, but much lower than the party's target of 12 percent.
PPP campaign team (Bapilu) head Fernita Darwis said the lack of a popular figurehead had made it difficult for the party to garner support from a larger pool of voters.