Observer suspects Moeldoko's Democrat Party coup to secure 3rd term for Jokowi

Republika – March 8, 2021
Moeldoko speaking at Democrat Party extraordinary congress in Deli Serdang – March 5, 2021 (Antara)

Rizky Suryarandika and Nawir Arsyad Akbar, Jakarta – The executive director of Voxpol Center Research and Consulting, Pangi Syarwi Chaniago, suspects that there is a hidden agenda behind attempts to take over the Democrat Party leadership. Chaniago is concerned that one of the aims is so President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo can run for a third term in office.

Chaniago feels concerned that the Palace has ignored efforts by Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko to take over the Democrat leadership. According to Chaniago, this has given rise to public speculation that there was intent behind this on the part of the Palace.

"It is also reasonable for us to be suspicious about and ask what agenda is being designed by the government? Perhaps amendments to the 1945 Constitution, particularly in relation to wanting to increase the number of presidential terms to three? Whatever the agenda, it is reasonable for us to be suspicious because the aim of these clumsy methods will most certainly harm us all", said Chaniago in a press release received by Republika on Monday March 8.

Chaniago is of the view that it is reasonable to suspect that Moeldoko's political maneuvers are not just for his own personal interests. Rather, he touched on the possibility that Moeldoko is only a tool being used to achieve the main goal.

"Does Moeldoko through these reckless and improper moves want to be a 2024 presidential candidate? Or is he doing all of this with the blessing of the Palace and Moeldoko is simply a pawn to smooth the way for the political ambitions of the person who is currently in power", insinuated Chaniago.

Aside from this, Chaniago said he deplores the use of belah bambu politics – the politics of sowing disunity – to target an opposition political party. He believes that this is a political method which is unethical at a time when the person in power is already very dominant.

"Never mind that the composition of the government coalition today is already too fat, six out of nine parties in parliament with a total of 75 percent of seats are already part of the government coalition, isn't this enough already?, said Chaniago.

Chaniago is critical of the practice of sowing disunity in an opposition party then making them part of the government's coalition. This will only return the House of Representatives (DPR) to the New Order era of former president Suharto.

"Simply being a rubber stamp for the powers that be, becoming an institution of yes men (executive heavy)", said Chaniago.

Earlier on Friday March 5, Moeldoko was declared the general chairperson of the Democrat Party at an extraordinary congress (KLB) in Deli Serdang, North Sumatra.

The camp loyal to Democrat Party's General Chairperson Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono (AHY) and his father, Democrat Party Supreme Assembly (MTP) Chairperson and former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY), said that the extraordinary congress was illegal because it was not in accordance with the party's statues and rules of association (AD/ART).

The decision to elect Moeldoko as the Democrat Party general chairperson for the period 2021-2026 was read out by a former senior Democrat member who had recently been expelled from the party, Jhoni Allen Marbun. Moeldoko's appointment quickly invited a strong reaction from the Cikeas camp – referring to SBY's private residence in Cikeas – and inflamed a "war to seek justice".

The Presidential Staff Office (KSP) has shrugged off accusations of the involvement of President Widodo in Moeldoko's political maneuvers. The KSP insists that Moeldoko's actions are a personal decision which has no relationship with the president.

KSP expert staff chief Ali Mochtar Ngabalin said that the presidential palace or President Widodo has absolutely no inclination toward or interest in interfering in party politics. According to Ngabalin, Moeldoko's political maneuvers are a personal decision which is protected under law.

"His position, thinking and views in being active in the Democrat Party are a personnel position. This is the reason why I reject people who are linking this personal position with the involvement of President Joko Widodo", said Ngabalin on Monday March 8.

Marbun meanwhile, one of the initiators of the Deli Serdang extraordinary congress, has denied accusations that Moeldoko was representing the palace when he was elected as the Democratic Party's chairperson. According to Marbun, it is Moeldoko's personal desire to provide hope for improvements and greatness for the party with the mercy star as its logo.

"It's more because of his personality which is very sympathetic and respects people and respects those under him. That's what made us (leading members) want him to become the general chairperson", said Marbun in a video release on Monday.

Marbun explained that the initiative to approach Moeldoko to come on board initially came from senior members inside the party. Marbun said that many leading members were interested in a figure like the KSP chief.

"It was us who came courting him. We saw a general who had great potential and didn't have any flaws", said Marbun.

Marbun hopes that people will not continue linking Moeldoko's election with the Palace. Because, according to Marbun, there are no real grounds to link his relationship [with the Palace] and the election of the former Indonesian military commander-in-chief.

"It has no relationship with Moeldoko's position", he said.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Pengamat Curiga Manuver Moeldoko untuk Jokowi Tiga Periode".]