Fri, 18 Jul 2003

PDI-P fires Mardijo for seeking post of governor

Suherdjoko, The Jakarta Post, Semarang

In what many see as an authoritarian move, President Megawati Soekarnoputri, who also chairs the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan), has fired Central Java's party chairman Mardijo for insisting on contesting in the upcoming gubernatorial election.

Mardijo defied Megawati's instructions not to seek the governorship for Central Java during the election scheduled for July 24, as the party's central board has nominated the incumbent governor, Mardiyanto, who is a former military commander in the province.

Megawati's letter dismissing Mardijo was delivered by PDI Perjuangan secretary-general Soetjipto who visited the province on Wednesday.

However, Mardijo, who also chairs the Central Java Legislative Council, said he had not met Soetjipto yet, nor did he receive official notification of his removal.

His dismissal is not the first. Last year, the PDI Perjuangan central board also fired Tarmidi Suharjo, party chairman of the Jakarta chapter, for nominating himself for the governorship in the capital city.

Tarmidi, who has now joined the Pioneer Party led by Megawati's sister and also her political opponent, Rachmawati Soekarnoputri, defied the PDI Perjuangan central board's order to support the reelection bid of Sutiyoso.

Another victim of Megawati's authoritarianism is Alzier Dianis Thabrani, a former PDI Perjuangan chairman for Lampung province.

Alzier was removed from the country's largest party after he won the gubernatorial election in Lampung, defeating incumbent governor Oemarsono who was backed by Megawati.

On top of that, Alzier was named a suspect in a corruption case that happened back in 1993.

Mardijo has insisted on going ahead with his decision to contest the gubernatorial election for Central Java, even though he has been fired by PDI Perjuangan.

His nomination was endorsed by the party's provincial board members.

"I will not withdraw from the election. I will be a good lesson for democracy in the region," he said.

"I will resist my dismissal. Only the regional conference of PDI Perjuangan has the right to fire me because I did not become chairman through appointment. The party's central board approved my position," he argued.

His house at Plamongan Indah housing complex in Demak regency, Central Java, is tightly guarded by hundreds of local PDI Perjuangan task force members and other supporters.

"Mardijo is a real governor chosen by the people," read a poster put on a jeep belonging to one of his loyalists.

Mardijo acknowledged he had been asked by PDI Perjuangan leaders in Jakarta, including Soetjipto, deputy party secretary Pramono Anung and deputy chairman Theo Syafe'i, to prepare for the nomination.

"They initially guided and pushed me to take part in the gubernatorial race in Central Java. And if now they stop me, it means they tried to trap me," he said.

"If the central board fires me now as the provincial chairman of PDI Perjuangan, it means they (Soetjipto, Pramono and Theo) have betrayed the party. It is those three who should be removed, not me."

Mardijo said he had submitted his application as a candidate with the gubernatorial election committee on May 15 after Pramono told him that the party's central board backed his bid.