Parties Backing Ahok's Rivals Seek Inquiry to Suspend Him From Office

Jakarta Governor Ahok at his blasphemy trial in January. (Antara Photo/Dharma Wijayanto)

By : Markus Junianto Sihaloho & Carlos KY Paath | on 6:01 PM February 13, 2017
Category : News, Jakarta, Featured

Jakarta. Lawmakers of several parties have called on the House of Representatives to initiate a right of inquiry, or hak angket, to challenge a decision by Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo not to suspend Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, who is currently standing trial on blasphemy charges.

Hak angket is typically used by legislators to establish a team to challenge a policy or decision by the executive.

House Deputy Speaker Agus Hermanto, who is a member of the Democratic Party, said his party, along with Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), will soon propose the implementation of such a procedure.

"If the home affairs minister does not temporarily suspend Jakarta Governor Ahok, then the Democratic Party will propose the right of inquiry," Agus said on Monday (13/02).

The Democratic Party and the PKS are backing Agus Harimurti and his running mate Sylviana Murni in Wednesday's Jakarta gubernatorial election.

The move is also supported by House Deputy Speaker Fadli Zon, who is a member of the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra). The party, headed by former military strongman Prabowo Subianto, is backing Anies Baswedan and his running mate Sandiaga Uno in the election.

Fadli said Gerindra has officially submitted a proposal for a right of inquiry into what it calls "Ahok Gate," to leaders of the House on Monday.

Minister's Response

Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo meanwhile responded by saying that regional leaders facing charges involving less than five years' imprisonment will not be suspended until the sentence becomes legally binding, unless law enforcers put them in custody.

"I did not suspend Atut [former Banten governor Ratu Atut Chosiyah] until she was arrested. Gorontalo Governor [Rusli Habibie] has not been suspended until today, because he was charged with an offence that carries less than five years' imprisonment," the minister said.

Tjahjo said he will approach the Supreme Court regarding Ahok's case.

"We will seek a directive from the Supreme Court, so that it [the case] will be clean and clear," he said.

Ahok returned to office on Sunday from mandatory leave during his re-election campaign, which started on Oct. 28 last year.

His term ends in October this year.

Petrus Selestinus, coordinator of lawyers' group the Team of Defenders of Indonesian Democracy (TPDI), previously said the heads of regional governments can only be suspended from their posts once they have been convicted to a minimum five years' imprisonment.

Ahok is accused of blasphemy and cyber-harassment, but prosecutors in the case have yet to announce what sentence they will demand.

The trial entered its tenth session on Monday.

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