Yustinus Paat, Jakarta – United Development Party (PPP) Chairman Suharso Monoarfa has been ousted by clerics grouping in three oversight councils, a party executive said on Monday, allegedly because of his past remarks suggesting that Muslim clerics in the party demanded payment whenever he wanted to meet them.
Leaders of the Sharia Council, the Honor Council, the Advisory Council, and provincial chapters gathered in the province of Banten earlier this month and agreed to dismiss Suharso, according to Usman Tokan, deputy secretary of the party's Advisory Council.
Suharso, who is also the National Development Planning Minister in the cabinet, "has put PPP under the spotlight and created unwanted noise" that brought the three councils to an agreement for his dismissal, Usman said without going into details.
The party has appointed Advisory Council Chairman Muhamad Mardiono as acting chairman until Suharso's term expires in 2025, Usman said.
"[Suharso] isn't fired from the party, but he is stripped of his leadership role to end this polemic," Mardiono said.
Suharso has not responded to the ongoing feud but fellow PPP man Saifullah Tamliha said the dismissal was illegal and that Suharso remains the legitimate chairman.
"The chairman can only be dismissed by the national congress according to the party's articles of association," said Saifullah, known as a supporter of Suharso.
Suharso angered Muslim clerics after he alleged in an August 15 speech that he had to leave "envelopes" filled with money whenever he visited them, without providing proof or making any specific mention of individuals.
Mardiono said earlier that the three councils had asked Suharso twice in late August to resign but the latter dismissed the request as a violation of the internal regulation.
Suharso also argued that he had offered an apology "for that slip of the tongue".