Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin was deputy chairman of the PPP under Suryadharma Ali. (Antara Photo/M. Agung Rajasa)

Religious Affairs Minister Lukman to Chair Islamic Party PPP


JANUARY 08, 2016

Jakarta. The head of a faction of Indonesia’s oldest Islamic party says he has relinquished his post to Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin following a loss of state recognition.

Muhammad Romahurmuziy, the chairman of the pro-government faction of the United Development Party, or PPP, since October 2014, said on Friday that the leadership change was prompted by the Justice Ministry’s decision earlier in the day to rescind a letter recognizing Romahurmuziy’s faction as the legitimate representation of the PPP, whose leadership is also contested by the opposition-aligned faction chaired by Djan Faridz.

Romahurmuziy said that under the party’s regulations, the loss of government recognition meant the party’s leadership board would have to revert to the state it was in before he took over as chairman from Suryadharma Ali.

But because Suryadharma is currently on trial for corruption – one of the major factors behind the worst internal crisis in the party’s 43-year history – his deputy at the time, Lukman, becomes the chairman by default, according to Romahurmuziy.

The government, while withdrawing its recognition of Romahurmuziy’s camp, has also refused to acknowledge the faction led by Suryadharma ally Djan.

Romahurmuziy said the legal vacuum that both sides found themselves in now should provide the impetus needed for a reconciliation. His side plans to hold a national congress soon to elect a new leadership board, but Djan’s faction, which retains control of the party’s headquarters in Central Jakarta, has refused to recognize the outcome of such a meeting.

Instead, Djan has called on his rival to recognize his faction as the legitimate one.

“We’re open to Romi joining us, and we’ll give him any position he wants, except chairman or secretary general, because we’ve got our own people in those posts,” he said on Monday.

The crisis at the PPP mirrors that at Golkar, Indonesia’s oldest party, which is riven between factions loyal to Aburizal Bakrie and rival Agung Laksono. As with the PPP, the Justice Ministry has refused to recognize either of the two factions.