Police Arrest Suspect in Ternate Over Mob Attack on SBY’s Son
Ezra Sihite, Arientha Primanita & Markus Junianto Sihaloho
An attack on a group of senior Democratic Party officials, including the president’s son, by local party members in Ternate, North Maluku, has underlined the crisis in the party as it reels from a series of scandals.
Observers say the incident made it clear just how deep the divisions in the party were, and pointed to the work that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had ahead of him as he tries to restore order in the ranks.
Yudhoyono recently moved to take direct control of the party ahead of the 2014 elections, appointing perceived loyalists to positions in the House.
The Democrats won the 2009 elections but they have seen their popularity plummet as a result of a string of corruption cases.
“The attack shows that there is no respect for leadership and a lack of unity,” Fachry Ali, a political scientist at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), said on Friday.
Democratic Party chairman Anas Urbaningrum and secretary general Edhie Baskoro Yudhoyono, better known as Ibas, were among the senior members set on in Ternate.
Ibas, the president’s son, denounced the incident. “This anarchy is not tolerable,” he said hours after the attack, demanding a quick investigation.
The attack happened shortly after Ibas and Anas arrived in Ternate with other senior party members for the election of a new provincial party chairman.
The attackers struck two members of the entourage. Ibas and Anas escaped unscathed and flew back to Jakarta.
Police arrested one person on Friday for the attack.
“A person has been named as a suspect for hitting a member of the Democratic Party and there is another person we are searching for,” National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Saud Usman Nasution said.
The mob was comprised of supporters of Thaib Armaiyn, a candidate to chair the Democratic Party in North Maluku.
The mob was angry over a decision by the Democratic Party’s national executive board to appoint a committee for the election, after the regional board had already named its own committee. They thought the national board was trying to prevent Thaib from being re-elected as regional party chairman.
Saud said the police had questioned 13 people in the case.
“A suspect was arrested this morning in Ternate,” he said. “Based on witness testimony, the suspect abused the guests from Jakarta.”
He did not say if there was a specific target of the attack. Ezra Sihite, Arientha Primanita & Markus Junianto Sihaloho