The Jakarta Post
Golkar Party chairman Aburizal Bakrie will be making less appearances on the Prabowo Subianto-Hatta Rajasa campaign trail because of concerns his presence could adversely impact the pair's efforts to win the July 9 presidential election, says a senior Golkar politician.
The chairman of the forum for Golkar's regional chapters, Muntasir Hamid, said Aburizal was a 'problematic' politician who could 'drive away' voters.
'I have received many complaints from party leaders in the regions who were not happy with Aburizal's presence in the campaign. Aburizal could cast a negative image to the pair,' he said in a statement.
Muntasir also called on Prabowo-Hatta's campaign team not to involve other Golkar executives, who he called 'Aburizal's cronies', such as secretary-general Idrus Marham and treasurer Setya Novanto.
'They are also problematic politicians,' said Muntasir.
Meanwhile, Golkar's decision to support the Prabowo-Hatta ticket continues to divide the party.
On Thursday, Suhardiman, the founder of the Central Organization for Indonesian Employees (SOKSI), one of Golkar's oldest wing organizations, said that he had dismissed Ade Komaruddin from his position as chairman for supporting Prabowo in the July 9 race.
'As founder, Suhardiman has used the power afforded by SOKSI to issue a decree on Ade's dismissal,' Robinson Napitupulu, a member of the SOKSI advisory council, said.
SOKSI is officially supporting presidential candidate Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo and his running mate Jusuf Kalla, a move that goes against the official party line.
Suhardiman also decided to name Lawrence TP Siburian the organization's interim chairman until 2015.
In spite of calls for Aburizal to be distanced from the campaign, on Thursday he joined Prabowo in Palembang, South Sumatra, alongside PKS chairman Anis Matta and Golkar chief advisor Akbar Tandjung.
Aburizal decided to join the coalition after failing to strike a deal with Megawati Soekarnoputri, the chair of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the leading party of the Jokowi-Kalla coalition.
Golkar's attempt to form another coalition with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Democratic Party also failed to materialize. At the eleventh hour, Aburizal decided to drop his presidential bid and instead joined Prabowo's ticket.
The move divided the party with top Golkar politicians including Suhardiman; Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, a senior adviser to Aburizal and deputy head of the party's advisory council; Fahmi Idris, a former minister; and prominent lawmakers such as Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita, Indra J. Piliang and Poempida Hidayatulloh, deciding to leave the party to support Jokowi's bid.
Members of the opposition in Golkar were mainly concerned about Golkar's status as the second best performer in the April 9 legislative election, a position that could have enabled Aburizal's nomination as either a presidential or vice presidential candidate.
Many other Golkar senior members have also jumped ship and joined the rival camp, arguing that Kalla is a former Golkar chairman.
Aburizal's controversial decision to support Prabowo has heightened tension within the party, Muntasir confirmed speculation that many Golkar regional leaders were gearing up to push forward an extraordinary congress to unseat Aburizal.
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