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Jakarta Post

Setya Novanto takes helm of Golkar

  • thejakartapost.com

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, May 17, 2016   /  11:18 am
Setya Novanto takes helm of Golkar Golkar Party politicians Setya Novanto (left) and Mahyudin (right) attend a Golkar candidates campaign in Medan, North Sumatra, on May 8. The party's extraordinary national meeting declared Setya its new chairman early on Tuesday. (Antara/Irsan Mulyadi)

Controversial senior politician and Golkar Party lawmaker Setya Novanto gained the most votes at an extraordinary national meeting of the party in the early hours of Tuesday, handing him the leader's post for the veteran party.

In the first stage of the closed-door vote, Setya and his main rival, House of Representatives Speaker Ade Komarudin, garnered the most votes among eight candidates, with 277 and 173 votes respectively.

However, in the second round between the final two candidates, Ade decided to step down and support Setya instead.

Therefore, the party plenary lead by Nurdin Halid declared Setya the new Golkar chairman for the 2014 to 2019 period.

Ade said he made the decision to step down from his candidacy after a discussion with the party's former chairman Aburizal Bakrie, who had thrown his support behind Ade.

"I am younger than Novanto so it is better for me to step down. I still have other opportunities in the future," Ade said as quoted by news portal kompas.com.

Setya welcomed his victory gladly and thanked the party's senior members for supporting him. He also acknowledged Ade for stepping down and making way for his victory after only one round of voting, something he considered "extraordinary", Setya said as quoted by kompas.com. 

"I will take [the position] and its responsibility for the sake of our country," the former House speaker said during a televised interview on TVOne on Tuesday.

Setya also vowed that Golkar would support President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Vice President Jusuf Kalla's administration. Prior to the vote, the party declared it would support the government and exit the Red-and-White Coalition led by the Gerindra Party.

Setya started his political career at the bottom of the party that was closely tied to the late dictator Soeharto. However, he made his way to the top until he was appointed Golkar treasurer.

The lawmaker, who was part of Aburizal's side during the party's dual leadership issues, was also appointed House speaker for the period of 2014 to 2019. His name entered the spotlight after a recording went public of a conversation between him, businessman Riza Chalid and former US-based mining giant PT Freeport Indonesia president director Maroef Sjamsoeddin.

In the conversation, reportedly regarding a backroom deal with the company, Riza and Setya were suspected to have misused Jokowi and Kalla's names. The scandal rocked the House and its ethics council declared Setya guilty of misconduct, leading to his resignation from the speaker position in 2015. He then moved to lead the Golkar faction at the House.

In the Golkar extraordinary national meeting, businessman Setya was recorded as the richest candidate, with Rp 114.77 billion and U$49,150. (rin)

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