Banda Aceh. Tensions between Aceh Governor Zaini Abdullah and his predecessor Irwandi Yusuf appear to have outlived the fraught election last April, with Zaini’s supporters attacking his rival during Monday’s inauguration ceremony.
The incident occurred after Zaini’s swearing-in ceremony at the provincial legislature, when Irwandi was leaving the building.
Outside the council gates, a crowd of thousands who came in support of Zaini began hurling insults at Irwandi, calling him a traitor.
Irwandi did not respond, but the crowd grew rowdy, and a handful of people rushed at the former governor, hitting him repeatedly over the head.
“He was immediately shielded by police officers,” said one eyewitness. “Things could have gotten really bad if they hadn’t protected him.”
Irwandi was rushed to Zainoel Abidin General Hospital with a black eye and other bruises.
One of the officers in his security detail, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the attackers were wearing red, the color of Zaini’s Aceh Party.
“It started with one of them hitting him in the head. Then six or seven more people piled in,” the officer said.
Irwandi, speaking to reporters after receiving treatment at the hospital, confirmed that “the perpetrators were wearing Aceh Party uniforms,” adding that he recognized some of them.
“The police must investigate this incident, regardless of whether I press charges. There has not been any apology from the Aceh Party.”
Tensions between the party and Irwandi had been high since well before the gubernatorial election in April that had to be postponed several times because of the Aceh Party’s refusal to recognize Irwandi’s bid to run as an independent candidate.
Irwandi blamed the party for a string of attacks in the run-up to the poll; this was refuted as the basis for a legal challenge that he later mounted against the election results.