Indonesian party chairman quits in graft case

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 February, 2013, 5:58am


The chairman of Indonesia's ruling Democratic Party, Anas Urbaningrum, announced his resignation yesterday after the country's anti-graft body named him a suspect in a multimillion-dollar corruption case.

"I quit as the chairman of the Democratic Party," he told a press conference.

Anas, 43, was named a suspect on Friday for allegedly receiving "gifts or a promise of gifts" in a corruption case linked to the construction of the Hambalang sports centre project near Jakarta, worth about 1.17 trillion rupiah (HK$932 million).

His resignation was widely expected as all Democratic Party officials had recently signed an "integrity pact" to give up their posts if named as a corruption suspect.

Maintaining his innocence, Anas said he would go through the necessary legal procedures in the case.

It was widely known that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, patron of the ruling Democratic Party, had not favoured him for the chairman post in 2010, and yesterday the accused hinted that he believed the graft accusations were related to that.

The allegation involving Anas is the latest scandal to hit the ruling party and is a further embarrassment for the president, who won a landslide victory on his re-election in 2009 on a corruption-fighting platform.

Legal graft cases surrounding the Democratic Party have dogged its popularity, which slumped to a mere 8 per cent in December last year from about 21 per cent in 2009. Elections are due in 2014.

At the beginning of December, sports minister Andi Mallarangeng, who used to be the presidential spokesman, was forced to resign after being named a suspect in the same case.

He was the first minister to step down over graft allegations since the country's powerful Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) began operating in 2003 with a mandate to crack down on rampant graft.

The party's former treasurer, Muhammad Nazaruddin, was jailed last April for four years and 10 months over a separate sports-graft case.

The Hambalang sports centre was built after a tender process that has been publicly questioned. The case has dogged Indonesia's politics and the Democratic Party ever since the KPK kicked off an investigation into the sports-complex development in 2010.