Supporters of Glkar Party chairman Aburizal Bakrie greet the news of a ruling annulling the Justice Ministry’s recognition of the leadership of a rival faction, outside the Jakarta State Administrative Court on Monday. (Antara Photo/Rosa Panggabean)

Kalla Mediates in Golkar Rift, but Reconciliation Still Elusive

MAY 21, 2015

Jakarta. President Joko Widodo has instructed two of Indonesia's most prominent political parties to settle internal rifts before upcoming regional elections.

Teten Masduki, a member of the president’s communications team, said the president wanted the Golkar Party and the United Development Party, or PPP, to resolve their respective leadership disputes.

Incumbent Aburizal Bakrie and his rival Agung Laksono are jostling for leadership of the Golkar Party, while M. Romahurmuziy and Djan Faridz are fighting for control of the PPP.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla — a former Golkar chairman — is leading mediation efforts between Agung and Aburizal and met the two separately this week, several Golkar politicians confirmed on Thursday.

Kalla has admitted to helping in the dispute, but has so far refused to provide details.

“I have been helping [in the reconciliation efforts] as a senior member of Golkar. Hopefully [the split] will be resolved, at least temporarily for the elections,” the vice president was quoted as saying by CNN Indonesia.

“Don’t ask further. I will tell you more if everything works out.”

Aburizal loyalist Idrus Marham said that both sides have agreed to temporarily set aside their differences for the regional elections, which are scheduled for the end of this year.

Settling the internal rift has some urgency, however, as candidates have to register at their local General Elections Commission office between July 26 and 28.

Idrus said Kalla promised to set up a meeting between the two Golkar camps over the next few days “to discuss the formula of this reconciliation.”

But finding a solution may be difficult.

Idrus has suggested Aburizal might still want Agung’s camp to recognize his leadership, which was reinforced by a court decision this week.

Jakarta State Administrative Affairs Court (PTUN) annulled a decree from the Justice Minister that recognized Agung’s claim to chairman and reinstated Aburizal. Agung’s camp has appealed the PTUN decision and the Justice Ministry has said it will file a separate challenge.

Aburizal, meanwhile, is seeking a further court decision to officially accept the party’s 2014 Bali congress, which saw him reelected as chairman for another five-year term.

A decision in his favor would delegitimise a congress staged by Agung’s camp in Ancol, North Jakarta several weeks later, in which Agung was declared chairman.

PTUN Jakarta is the fifth institution to rule on Golkar’s messy dispute, and its decision this week follows judgements from the Central Jakarta District Court, the West Jakarta District Court, Golkar’s own party tribunal and the Justice Ministry.

The PTUN and Central Jakarta courts have found in favor of Aburizal, and the West Jakarta District Court and Justice Ministry have supported Agung. The party tribunal returned a split decision.

The North Jakarta District Court will hear a sixth dispute.

Zainuddin Amali, secretary general of Agung’s camp, agreed the party needed to reconcile.

“We need to save Golkar in time for the elections. [Aburizal and Agung] can work together to face [the elections],” he was quoted as saying by on Thursday.

The winner will likely decide Golkar’s candidates for the upcoming elections, a process that is still away off.

“This will be decided later. After a ruling is made on our appeal [to the PTUN decision],” Zainuddin said.

Golkar has a lot to lose if it sits out the regional elections and many Golkar candidates are reportedly mulling over switching to less fractious parties.

Analysts have predicted that full reconciliation will remain elusive unless both sides agree to stage a third congress to settle the feud.