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Jakarta Post

Bakrie risks losing grip on Golkar

  • Hans David Tampubolon

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, March 28, 2014   /  09:19 am

Golkar Party chairman Aburizal Bakrie could lose control of the country'€™s second-largest political party, due to infighting initiated by members of his inner circle.

A source familiar with the party'€™s internal problems, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Jakarta Post that an insurgent movement was growing within the party to oust Aburizal.

The source said that when Golkar failed to secure enough votes in the April 9 legislative election to nominate its own presidential candidate, the group would move into action.

'€œCertain elements within Golkar, led by the chairman of the patron board, Akbar Tandjung, plans to hold an extraordinary national congress if the party'€™s performance in the legislative election is poor,'€ the source said.

'€œDuring the congress, Aburizal will be ousted and Akbar will become the new chairman.'€

The source said that a recently leaked video of Aburizal traveling in the Maldives with two women celebrities half his age was part of an operation to delegitimize Aburizal, in a move instigated by Akbar'€™s supporters within the party.

Akbar was Golkar chairman from 1998 to 2004. The 68-year-old politician is considered one of the country'€™s finest strategists in the political arena.

The source said that if Akbar assumed control of the party, he could use it for his political vehicle in the 2014 presidential election.

'€œAkbar needs to take over Golkar because he wants to be the vice presidential candidate alongside Joko '€˜Jokowi'€™ Widodo of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle [PDI-P],'€ the source said.

Jokowi, who is currently Jakarta governor, is the people'€™s favorite to win the presidential election, based on the results of numerous electability surveys.

'€œAkbar'€™s promise to PDI-P chairperson Megawati Soekarnoputri is that he will safeguard the PDI-P'€™s interests in the House of Representatives via the Golkar faction, which will be fully under the control of his people should he succeed in ousting Aburizal,'€ the source said.

Commenting on the alleged plot, Golkar deputy chairman Priyo Budi Santoso said he did not believe that there was a growing movement to oust Aburizal.

'€œRight now, we are concentrating on winning the legislative election, and I believe we will garner enough votes to support Pak Aburizal'€™s presidential bid,'€ Priyo said in the House'€™s compound on Thursday.

Priyo added, however, that anything, including an extraordinary congress, could happen after the legislative election if Golkar failed to achieve its electoral target.

Megawati'€™s official announcement to nominate Jokowi as her party'€™s presidential candidate has sent shock waves through all the major political parties in Indonesia, including Golkar.

Just hours after the announcement, Golkar'€™s patron board deputy chairman, Luhut Pandjaitan, issued a statement welcoming Jokowi'€™s nomination.

A few days later, Akbar said he was ready to become the Jakarta governor'€™s running mate.

'€œI'€™m ready, given my experience in government, in politics, in social activities and as a legislator at the House. I'€™m eligible to be a running mate to a presidential candidate,'€ Akbar said on Monday.

Separately, senior PDI-P politician Pramono Anung confirmed that a number of politicians had begun to approach Megawati to seek her approval to become the party'€™s vice presidential candidate.

Pramono, however, said that Akbar was not one of them.

'€œOf those who have approached us, none has gained approval from Bu Mega,'€ Pramono told the Post.