Markus Junianto Sihaloho, Carlos Paath, Jakarta – The Democratic Party is facing the leadership duality after disgruntled members held an extraordinary congress and elected a presidential aide as their new leader on Friday, challenging current chairman Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, the son of former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
The congress in the North Sumatra town of Deli Serdang, which was dismissed as 'illegal' by the party, elected Presidential Chief of Staff General (ret.) Moeldoko as the party chairman.
Moeldoko was not present at the congress but he talked over telephone to all participants, asking their seriousness in electing him.
As the disgruntled members replied 'yes', he continued: "I appreciate and respect your decision and therefore I accept my election as the chairman of the Democratic Party."
The Agus camp responded in fury and called on President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to take actions against Moeldoko.
"With respect, I'm asking President Joko Widodo and the justice minister to refrain from legitimizing this illegal congress, which demonstrated an utter violation to the law," Agus said at the party's headquarters in Jakarta.
"In this democratic nation where political party's independence and sovereignty are highly valued, I'm asking the government not to keep a blind eye to illegal actions by Presidential Staff Head Moeldoko who intends to create division inside the Democratic Party."
Agus also threatened to file a police complaint against anyone participating in the congress.
The congress was led by House of Representatives member Jhoni Allen Marbun, one of seven senior party members who were fired by the Democratic Party last month for "inciting divisions".
They included former House speaker Marzuki Alie, another name that surfaced during the congress as a potential new party leader.
In recent months, Jhoni has been very critical of alleged "political dynasty" in the Democratic Party, which was founded in 2001 and became Susilo's political vehicle during the 2004 presidential election.
The Democratic Party was the ruling party during Susilo's presidency in 2004-2014 but has lost a commanding role in the House of Representatives since he retired. The party currently has 7.8 percent of the House's 575 seats.
Agus, 42, inherited the party's chairmanship from his father in March last year. His younger brother, Edhie Baskoro Yudhoyono, is currently leading the party's office in the House.