Political elites in the ruling coalition have launched a salvo of warnings against each other in an apparent ploy to reshape the political landscape in the next few months.
As the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) has stepped up its pressure against President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, the former Jakarta governor met on Thursday with his rival from last year’s presidential election campaign, Prabowo Subianto — the Gerindra Party patron and a key figure in the opposition camp.
The meeting at the Bogor Palace in West Java coincidentally took place amid reports suggesting the PDI-P was threatening to withdraw its support from Jokowi’s presidency, following his decision to postpone the inauguration of Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan, a former aide of PDI-P chairperson Megawati Soekarnoputri, as the National Police chief.
Some PDI-P politicians had earlier criticized the President’s performance in his first 100 days and threatened to start impeachment proceedings.
The meeting took place upon Prabowo’s request to pay the President back for what he called a gesture of goodwill and hospitality: the visit Jokowi paid him days before the President’s inauguration in October last year.
Speaking after the hour-long meeting, Prabowo reiterated his “commitment to support our [his and Jokowi’s] collective efforts”, in moving the country forward.
“He is the leader of the executive [branch], while we are outside the executive, but together [we both] want to build the nation. [We] both want to maintain the nation’s unity, commit to reducing poverty and maintaining the nation’s wealth,” said Prabowo.
Prabowo also said the meeting only briefly touched on current affairs, including the standoff between the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and the National Police.
“His commitment, which I also support, is that both the police and the KPK are equally important and we must maintain them both,” he said.
Jokowi has been the target of criticism for his apparent indecisiveness regarding Budi’s fate, which many saw as encouraging the standoff between the KPK and the police. Last week, Jokowi set up an independent team to help him make a decision regarding the fate of Budi. The team wanted Jokowi to drop Budi’s nomination.
Prabowo said he would support any decision made by Jokowi regarding Budi’s fate. “I’m sure he put the interests of the people above all other interests and he will choose the best for the nation.”
When asked if he had struck a deal with Prabowo, Jokowi said: “It was already addressed by Pak Prabowo that he fully supports the current government, the Jokowi-JK [Vice President Jusuf Kalla] administration.”
Prabowo met Golkar Party chairman Aburizal Bakrie and other key leaders of the opposition camp later in the evening to discuss the outcome of his meeting with Jokowi.
The Bogor meeting took place a day after Megawati gathered all of her inner circle at her official residence on Jl. Teuku Umar in Central Jakarta for several rounds of talks.
Megawati, who has sour relation with Prabowo, was said to have briefed members of her inner circle to fight for Budi’s inauguration and warned that PDI-P lawmakers at the House could withdraw their support for Jokowi’s current and future policies.
Publicly, PDI-P’s lawmakers declined to comment on the standoff and reiterated that “as a party that nominated Jokowi, PDI-P will always support the President and all of his policies as long as they don’t violate the Constitution”.
Some PDI-P politicians, however, have called on Jokowi to uphold the Constitution by proceeding with the inauguration of Budi, a move that many see as a threat against Jokowi.
PDI-P lawmaker Effendi Simbolon, who was recently in the spotlight for his harsh remarks criticizing Jokowi’s mediocre leadership qualities, repeatedly made statements demanding that “Budi be inaugurated”.
The party’s senior politician, Pramono Anung Wibowo, meanwhile, blamed the current standoff between the KPK and the police on the President’s indecisiveness.
“Our political situation has become too complicated so that we can’t fully work on solving problems, which the public has been waiting to see,” Pramono said.
Pramono later slammed Jokowi’s decision to consult the nine-member independent team instead of established state institutions, such as the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR), the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court or the Judicial Commission, in deciding the fate of Budi.
“I do respect the individuals in the team, but Pak Jokowi should have consulted the state institutions,” Pramono said.
Later on Thursday, Jokowi summoned members of the National Police Commission (Kompolnas), which is mandated by law to provide the President with its considerations regarding the appointments of police chiefs.
He also held another meeting with deputy police chief Comr. Gen. Badrodin Haiti and the police’s detective division chief, Insp. Gen. Budi Waseso.
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