The Jakarta Post
President Susilo Bambang Yudho-yono and former president Megawati Soekarnoputri almost clinched a historic deal late Wednesday to end their protracted enmity and forge a political coalition.
Intense lobbying, largely by vice president-elect Jusuf Kalla, to have the two leaders bury the hatchet, however, collapsed after Yudhoyono was accused of failing to show sincerity in mending the ties.
According to Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politicians, Megawati, through her representatives, demanded Yudhoyono on Wednesday first support the PDI-P coalition's bid for House leadership in order to regain her trust.
Yudhoyono, however, turned down the request.
He demanded to meet Megawati first before agreeing to back the bid. The PDI-P eventually lost the bid early Thursday to the Red-and-White Coalition led by defeated presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto.
'The two leaders intended to meet. But given the different point of views, the meeting could not be realized,' said PDI-P senior politician Pramono Anung on Thursday.
'Pak SBY wants to meet first and talk while Ibu Megawati wants him to join us first [in the bid for House leadership] and then meet,' he said.
According to Pramono, Megawati had assigned president-elect Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo, Kalla, her daughter Puan Maharani and NasDem Party patron Surya Paloh to meet Yudhoyono prior to the House's leadership selection process.
'If only Yudhoyono had agreed to accept them, Megawati would have called him through Puan. But he refused to accept them,' said Pramono.
Since her defeat against Yudhoyono in the 2004 presidential election, Megawati has entirely shut the door on her former coordinating security and political minister.
Megawati's grudge stemmed from Yudhoyono's decision to form a political party and run in the election while serving in her Cabinet, despite Yudhoyono's previous pledges to remain loyal to Megawati.
Her rage led to the PDI-P becoming the opposition party during Yudhoyono's 10-year administration, which is due to end on Oct. 20.
Renewed hope for the reconciliation of the two leaders, however, emerged after Yudhoyono received waves of public criticism for allowing the passage of a law that scrapped direct elections for governors, mayors and regents in mid-September.
Yudhoyono has planned to issue a government regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) in a bid to annul the newly passed regional election law, which is supported by the Red-and-White Coalition.
For the Perppu to gain sufficient support in the House, Yudhoyono will need the PDI-P's backing.
Yudhoyono's camp proposed late on Tuesday that it would support the PDI-P's bid for the House leadership in exchange for the party's later support for the Perppu. The camp would also be supported by the National Mandate Party (PAN) in order to gain sufficient voting power.
The President invited Jokowi to discuss the plan and hoped to lure Megawati with the proposal late on Tuesday.
'We've talked about a lot of things. There are talks about the House leadership, as well as our shared vision over the need to return the direct elections,' said Jokowi on Wednesday.
But the simmering optimism for a coalition of the PDI-P and Yudhoyono's Democratic Party in the House was short-lived as several hours before the start of the leadership selection process, which ran until Thursday morning, the coalition deal was called off.
Following the failed deal, the PDI-P coalition was short of one party to be able to nominate its candidates for the House leadership.
The Red-and-White Coalition passed Golkar Party treasurer Setya Novanto as House speaker and the Democratic Party's Agus Hermanto along with the Gerindra Party's Fadli Zon, PAN's Taufik Kurniawan and Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) lawmaker Fahri Hamzah as deputy speakers.
'From my side, I have wanted to meet with Ibu Megawati since long ago. But God has not allowed it to happen yet,' said Yudhoyono early on Thursday in response to the failed meeting with Megawati.
Yudhoyono also said that the failed reconciliation should not result in political instability, as evidenced during the selection of the House leadership.
'We don't expect any future political volatility that can disrupt the government from working. It is the people that will bear the consequences,' said Yudhoyono.
The Democratic Party has repeatedly voiced its neutrality in the House despite the fact that it often accommodates the interests of the Red-and-White Coalition.
Puan Maharani, however, blamed the collapse of the deal on Yudhoyono, who she alleged closed communication with Megawati by refusing to accept her and the others.
'We've tried, but there was no response from Pak SBY,' she said.
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