Yustinus Paat, Jakarta – Suharso Monoarfa insisted that he remains the legitimate chairman of the Muslim-based United Development Party, or PPP, as his supporters are preparing measures to annul the shock decision by the party's three supreme councils that ousted him earlier this week.
One of his supporters said on Thursday the Suharso camp will report the case to the Justice and Human Rights Ministry and explain that the new leadership board appointed in a recent gathering without his presence is illegal.
"Mr. Suharso will send a written statement to the Justice Ministry," PPP Secretary-General Syaifullah Tamliha said in Jakarta.
Muslim clerics grouping in PPP's Sharia Council, Honor Council, and Advisory Council as well as leaders of the party's provincial chapters gathered in the province of Banten last weekend and agreed to dismiss Suharso because he "has put PPP under the spotlight and created unwanted noise".
They also appointed Advisory Council Chairman Muhamad Mardiono as acting chairman until 2025 and registered the new leadership structure to the Justice Ministry. It remains unclear if the registration is accepted.
Suharso, who is also the National Development Planning Minister in the cabinet, 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.
He has since offered an apology "for that slip of the tongue" but the damage is done.
The three councils and regional chapter leaders voted to dismiss Suharso after previous calls for him to resign in the wake of the controversial speech went unanswered.
On Tuesday, Suharso told a PPP gathering in Jakarta that he is still their leader. "I am the chairman of United Development Party," he said, adding that the rivaling board set up in Banten "is completely false".
He also led a meeting of party executives who remain loyal to him to denounce the "illegal leadership board" of his rivals. The meeting was reportedly attended by 26 of the total 46 PPP executives.