Reunited Golkar to back Jokowi govt

(From left) Mr Aburizal Bakrie, Vice-President Jusuf Kalla, coordinating minister Luhut Pandjaitan (partly hidden) and Mr Agung Laksono at the Golkar meeting on Sunday.
(From left) Mr Aburizal Bakrie, Vice-President Jusuf Kalla, coordinating minister Luhut Pandjaitan (partly hidden) and Mr Agung Laksono at the Golkar meeting on Sunday.PHOTO: FACEBOOK PAGE OF MR JUSUF KALLA'S SPOKESMAN

JAKARTA • Indonesia's largest opposition party Golkar has agreed to support the government of President Joko Widodo, as its two rival factions buried the hatchet after a year of infighting, the Jakarta Globe newspaper and other media reported yesterday.

Golkar, the party of former strongman Suharto, controls nearly 15 per cent of seats in Parliament. It has been split by a leadership tussle between Mr Agung Laksono and Mr Aburizal Bakrie.

Golkar won 91 seats in Parliament in the 2014 legislative elections, the second biggest number of seats after the 109 won by President Joko's Indonesian Democratic Party- Struggle.

Thus its support for Mr Joko's ruling coalition is a boost for the President, although it is not quite clear at the moment what kind of role Golkar is seeking and whether it would be given Cabinet posts.

The peace pipe was smoked at a meeting on Sunday in Golkar's office in Slipi, West Jakarta.

Mr Agung and Mr Bakrie shook hands to signal the new unity in front of hundreds of Golkar officials, and two former Golkar veterans - Vice-President Jusuf Kalla and Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan.

Said Mr Agung: "We, Pak Ical and I, have agreed to sincerely support the Jokowi administration," referring to Mr Bakrie by his nickname.

Mr Agung added that the party will still speak out on issues affecting people's interest, the Globe said.

Mr Kalla said the two camps had basically resolved their dispute, and that they will now work out the details of a formal reunificat-ion.

Mr M. Misbakhun, a Golkar lawmaker, on Sunday said he was confident that a recent Supreme Court decision recognising Mr Bakrie as the party's legitimate chairman would bring the party back together.

Mr Bakrie was re-elected chairman at a party congress held in Bali in December 2014, but days later the rival faction held a separate congress in North Jakarta and named Mr Agung chairman.

Both sides have since brought their respective claims to various courts - getting a mix of judgments - before the matter landed before the Supreme Court.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 03, 2015, with the headline 'Reunited Golkar to back Jokowi govt'. Print Edition | Subscribe