Fractured Democrats Aim to Unite Party Faithful at August Gathering
In an effort to repair its image, the Democratic Party is planning to bring 5,000 members together to get guidance from chief advisor and party founder President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in August.
“We’ve set a tentative date for Aug. 30 for the event, which will be attended by key party officials from the provincial, district and city level. We expect around 5,000 attendees,” party cofounder Ventje Rumangkang said on Friday.
Ventje said the party intended to restore its image, which was tarnished by allegations that some senior members were involved in high-profile corruption cases.
“We hope to improve electability by addressing the issue of members who face legal cases,” he said. “The agenda is to bring back the stalwarts who spearheaded the party’s rise to success from 2001.”
Democratic legislator Jafar Hafsah said that a recent meeting of the Communication Forum of the Democratic Party’s Founders (FKPD) was not a threat to the reign of party chairman Anas Urbaningrum.
Jafar said that Yudhoyono’s recent call for troubled party members to step down was not aimed at anyone specific, but to all party members.
Veteran party member Max Sopacua agreed, saying the statement was intended for everyone in the party and not only Anas, who has been implicated in a graft case.
Another senior party member, Ruhut Sitompul, however, claimed that Yudhoyono was referring to Anas.
Ruhut said that Anas should not exacerbate the situation by attempting to cling to his post, but should respect Yudhoyono’s request as the head of the party’s advisory board. If Anas resigned, Ruhut said, Yudhoyono could work to restore the party’s former glory.
At least four Democratic officials have been implicated in corruption cases involving the construction of an athletes’ village in Palembang, the Hambalang sports center in Bogor and university equipment procurement projects. Among the officials are Anas, Youth and Sports Affairs Minister Andi Mallarangeng, graft convict and former party treasurer Muhammad Nazaruddin and lawmaker Angelina Sondakh.
Max said that the Democratic Party has its own procedures to oust its members or to ask them to resign. “We respect the legal process but our internal processes are also ongoing,” he said.
No clear candidate for the 2014 presidential election has emerged from among the Democrats, adding to party anxiety.