Thu, 18 Sep 2003

NU leaders hold four-day crisis meeting

JAKARTA: The country's largest Muslim organization, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), began on Wednesday a four-day leadership meeting here to respond to various issues, including an internal dispute within the party it founded, the National Awakening Party (PKB).

Influential clerics, such as Sahal Mahfudz, Fachrudin Masturo, Said Aqil Siradj, Mustofa Bisri, Masdar M. Mas'udi, Chotibul Umam and Muchit Muzadi, who all sit on the NU Syuriah (law-making body), and chairman Hasyim Muzadi, are attending the meeting.

Hasyim said the meeting was discussing strategic issues that would affect the interests of NU followers, but the results of the discussion would only be disclosed to the public on Saturday.

The clerics have threatened to withdraw support for PKB and set up a new party after party chief patron Abdurrahman Wahid led a move to dismiss the secretary-general, Syaifullah Yusuf, for allegedly violating the party's rules.

The clerics said the dismissal would wreak havoc with party preparations for the 2004 general election.

NU has some 40 million followers across the nation. PKB is one of several parties that claim to represent NU's interests. -- JP