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Yudhoyono Party Unlikely to Elect New Chief Soon, Official Says

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Democrat Party probably won’t select a new leader soon as it will focus on consolidation after its chairman resigned Feb. 23 amid graft charges, a party executive said.

There’s no plan to hold an extraordinary congress in the near future to elect a new chairman, Hayono Isman, a member of the party’s advisory council said. The current plan is for Yudhoyono to lead the party, Isman said by phone today.

Anas Urbaningrum stepped down a day after Indonesia’s anti-graft agency named him a suspect in a graft case related to a sports center in West Java. The plan to consolidate first before a new chairman is elected signals Yudhoyono’s difficulty in leading his party with only a year left before the parliament and presidential elections and with no clear candidate to replace him. Urbaningrum said Feb. 23 his resignation was the start of big measures, implying he may challenge Yudhoyono’s attempt to consolidate control over the party, according to Arbi Sanit, a political analyst at the University of Indonesia.

“The electability of the Democrat Party won’t improve anytime soon,” Sanit said by telephone in Jakarta today. Yudhoyono’s option is to “take over the support that has been given to Anas.”

That might prove difficult given that Anas’s support comes from members in organizations at grass-root levels, Sanit said. Meanwhile Yudhoyono is surrounded by “political opportunists,” he said, adding the president must therefore seek the support of influential party members in provinces and regencies. Urbaningrum led the Indonesian Islamic students union, according to his official website.

Yudhoyono won 61 percent over the votes in his 2009 re-election after promising to eradicate corruption and boost spending to help achieve 7 percent annual economic growth. Urbaningrum’s resignation followed that of Democrat Party member and sports minister Andi Mallarangeng who resigned in December over graft charges involving the same case.

Southeast Asia’s biggest economy expanded 6.11 percent in the three months through December, the slowest pace in more than two years. The country is the world’s third-most populous democracy after India and the U.S.

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