ARB Loyalists Switch Sides as Agung Shores Up Golkar Leadership Support
Jakarta. Several Golkar politicians loyal to incumbent chairman Aburizal Bakrie have reportedly switched sides to a pro-government camp supporting his rival Agung Laksono, as the Justice Ministry looks set to recognize the challenger as the legitimate chairman of Indonesia’s oldest political party.
Lawrence Siburian of Agung’s faction said his team had sent a letter to Aburizal, formally asking for reconciliation.
Among the terms offered is for Aburizal to recognize Agung as chairman, in exchange for Aburizal and his supporters remaining inside the party’s structure.
Although Aburizal’s camp has not officially replied to Agung’s offer for a truce, “about 20” of his supporters, Lawrence said, “has come to us. We met. We talked. And they [said] that they want to join.”
Lawrence said Agung was still awaiting a response from Aburizal and his supporters before approaching the ministry for endorsement. Agung, he continued, will not wait long. But the terms could also see Agung’s national leadership board structure balloon from an already massive 288 people.
The terms set by Agung’s camp also extend to Golkar members at the House of Representatives.
Lawrence signalled that Agung may oust legislators Ade Komarudin and Bambang Soesatyo, the current Golkar caucus chairman and secretary general, and replace them with Agus Gumiwang and Fayakhun Andriadi, respectively.
Ade and Bambang had earlier started a petition to launch a House inquiry against Justice Minister Yasonna Laoly for what they see as biased recognition of Golkar’s leadership.
According to another Agung loyalist, Leo Nababan, the camp will not attempt to replace the current House speaker, Setya Novanto, on condition that Setya supports Agung’s move to have Ade and Bambang replaced.
“If Setya does this, then he is on our side and he is safe,” Leo said.
Bambang on Sunday admitted that some of his colleagues had switched sides to Agung’s.
“Turns out there are some [Golkar members] who care more about keeping their jobs and eyeing lucrative positions then staying [on Aburizal’s side] and fighting,” he said.
Political observers have criticized the inquiry plan, arguing that an inquiry should only be launched to scrutinize a government decision that has wider implications for the public, and not just the interests of a sole political party.
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