Beritasatu, Jakarta – The People's Conscience Party, or Hanura, who was left without a House of Representatives seat after April's election, was dealt another blow on Wednesday as founder Wiranto accused current chairman Oesman Sapta Odang of breaching the party line and urged him to give up his leadership.
The feud came only months after Hanura – for the first time since it was founded in 2006 – failed to win a seat at the House of Representatives in the legislative election.
Speaking in a press conference at the Century Hotel in Central Jakarta, Wiranto said that Oesman, better known by his initials OSO, had failed as chairman since he could not bring Hanura into the House and urged him to step down.
"I would like to remind him about his commitment to step down from the chairmanship if he fails to meet our expectations. As a matter of fact, he has failed. Accordingly, we ask him to do the gentlemanly thing and step down from the Hanura chairmanship," Wiranto said of Oesman.
The former chief security minister claimed he himself had arranged for Oesman to be elected chairman to succeed him in 2016 and that both men had signed a "gentleman's agreement" with several conditions to be met by the new leader.
The main one was that Oesman should win more seats for Hanura at the House, bringing the number up from 16. But the party could not get even a single seat in the last election under Oesman's leadership.
Oesman, who was then the chairman of the Regional Representatives Council, or DPD, the second chamber in the national legislature, also agreed to lure up to 50 DPD members as Hanura's candidates for the House but he eventually brought in only 18 of them, Wiranto said.
Oesman also promised to lead Hanura only until 2019, but he then engineered a national congress that ended up with his re-election, Wiranto added.
Wiranto, who chairs Hanura's Advisory Board, was accompanied by board members and party co-founders Subagyo and Chaeruddin Ismail during the press conference.
"I will ask Mr. Bagyo and Mr. Chaeruddin to remind Mr. OSO about the gentleman's agreement that he signed when taking over the chairmanship from me," Wiranto said.
The retired army general dismissed rumors that he had nominated Oesman as his successor for money.
"When I handed over the chairmanship to OSO, some said I had sold the party for Rp 200 billion [$14 million]. I swear to God I never took a penny [from him]," Wiranto said.
Moments later in a separate press conference, Oesman denied there were ever any conditions for his leadership. He said the content of the so-called gentleman's agreement was no different from the party's rules and statutes.
"The gentleman's agreement outlined our commitment to never betray the party or tell a lie. There were no personal commitments," Oesman said in his press conference at the Sultan Hotel, also in Central Jakarta. The venues for both press conferences were only one kilometer apart.
Oesman denied having engineered his re-election, saying instead that Hanura's regional chapters had voted him in again. "I was given a mandate to continue the leadership. I cannot just ignore it," he said.
As for Hanura's failure to enter the House, Oesman blamed internal conflicts that resulted in a dual leadership of the party ahead of the election.
There were already signs of a feud between Wiranto and Oesman when the latter declined an offer from President Joko Widodo to join the Presidential Advisory Board (Wantimpres).
The board is led by Wiranto, who missed a chance to rejoin the cabinet after he was stabbed by an Islamic militant on Oct. 10 and had to undergo medical treatment for weeks.