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Democrat Party lawmaker says Yudhoyono ordered walkout during crucial vote

Kompas.com - September 26, 2014

Sabrina Asril, Jakarta – Democrat Party (DP) politician and lawmaker Ruhut Sitompul claims that they decided to walkout before a vote on a draft law on regional elections after being ordered to do so by DP faction chairperson Nurhayati Ali Assegaf.

Assegaf stated that DP chairperson Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) had sent her an SMS message instructing all members of the DP faction in the parliament to leave the room.

"[I] got the an SMS from [DP deputy chairperson] Max Sopacua that was the same as Ibu Nurhayati, yeah so it was over. (She said) it was from SBY, yeah that was it. What else (could we do)?", said Sitompul at the parliamentary building complex in Senayan, Jakarta on Friday September 26.

According to Sitompul, who is known as one of Yudhoyono's loyalists, he was just following orders. He added that the six DP faction members who opposed the instruction by remaining in the room were House of Representative (DPR) members that were unelected so they did not have any kind of burden.

When asked about Yudhoyono's disappointment with the DP's decision to walkout, Sitompul claimed ignorance. He also claimed to be surprised because in addition to Assegaf, Sopacua also said the same thing, that there was an SMS send directly from Yudhoyono.

As has been reported, the Draft Law on Regional Elections (RUU Pilkada) under which regional heads would be elected by Regional Legislative Councils (DPRD) instead of directly, was ratified at a plenary meeting in the early hours of Friday morning through a vote that was won by [Prabowo Subianto's] Red and White parliamentary coalition.

Prior to the vote, DP faction members walked out of the session on the pretext that a third option, namely the direct election of regional heads but with 10 conditions, were not fully accommodated in the draft law.

Notes

According to a report by Detik.com shortly after the walkout, Sitompul said that he was surprised at the decision because they had received no directive by Yudhoyono. "So during the meeting beforehand someone said it was on the directive of Pak SBY, but I received information that [DP board of patrons member] Pak Syarief [Hassan] said there was no directive from Pak SBY". "So I sent an SMS to Pak SBY, and he said 'sorry, I'll call you later'".

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service.]

Source: http://nasional.kompas.com/read/2014/09/26/15043961/Kata.Ruhut.SBY.SMS.ke.Ketua.Fraksi.untuk.Walkout.dalam.Rapat.Paripurna.RUU.Pilkada.

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