Ani Yudhoyono Popular Choice Among Democrats to Lead the Party

First Lady Ani Yudhoyono with husband President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on her 60th birthday at Merdeka Palace, Jakarta, in this July 2012 file photo. (Rumgapres Photo/Abror Rizki)

First Lady Ani Yudhoyono with husband President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on her 60th birthday at Merdeka Palace, Jakarta, in this July 2012 file photo. (Rumgapres Photo/Abror Rizki)

Despite reports that First Lady Ani Yudhoyono’s husband won’t permit her to run for chairwoman of the Democratic Party, she still remains a popular choice among members of the party.

Democratic Party faction head at the People’s Consultative Assembly Jafar Hafsah said that party members believe she would accept a nomination as the party’s chairwoman. The election will be conducted at the end of this month.

Jafar said that Ani’s experience as the party’s deputy chairwoman during its founding makes her a prime candidate for the role. He added that Ani is also considered to be skilled at mending party disputes.

“She has the chance to be the chairwoman, as she was nominated by regional and central board [members],” Jafar said on Tuesday. “[We’re] only waiting for the recommendation of the [party’s] high assembly and SBY’s [President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s] approval.”

Head of the party’s faction at the House of Representatives Nurhayati Ali Assegaf said that given Ani’s experience, it is natural that the party wants to nominate her for the chairwoman role.

“This is normal and appropriate under the unusual situation of the Democratic Party,” Nurhayati, the deputy secretary general of the party, said to Antaranews.com. “Ani is considered appropriate and suitable to be Democratic Party’s chairwoman.”

House of Representatives speaker Marzuki Alie, who was also a popular chairman nominee, earlier said the new Democratic Party chairman would not be related to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

“SBY [Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono] has said that the next chairman would not be from his family, not Edhie Baskoro Yudhoyono, nor Ani Yudhoyono,” Marzuki said on Friday, as quoted by Antaranews.com.

Marzuki said that the new chairman would be someone who had served the party for a long time, lambasting the idea that Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan would be the new party leader to replace Anas Urbaningrum, who resigned from the top position last month after he was named a graft suspect by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

Head of the Democratic Party Brotherhood Consortium (Perekat) M. Subur Sembiring said on Monday that Marzuki’s statement was wrong.

“SBY never forbid Ani to be the Democratic Party chairwoman,” Subur said, as quoted by Antaranews.com. “SBY only prohibited his daughter and son to contest in the election for presidential candidate or vice presidential candidate in 2014,” he said, accusing Marzuki of trying to prevent Ani from joining the election.

“Please don’t prevent the request of the majority of the Democratic Party that wants Ani to be elected as Democratic Party chairman in acclamation during the party’s extraordinary congress in Bali,” Subur said.

Subur said that if the majority wants Ani to be the chairman, Yudhoyono would not stop it.

The party will hold an extraordinary congress on March 30 to 31 in Bali to select the new chairman.