Coup attempt against AHY? The burden of proof lies with the Democratic Party: Political observer

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Democratic Party chairman Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono. (Photo: Rayi Gigih/IO)

IO – Democratic Party chairman Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono (popularly known with the abriviation of AHY), has claimed an alleged “coup” attempt against him, launched by individuals within the inner circle of President Joko Widodo. The goal, he said, is to use the Democratic Party as a political vehicle for the upcoming 2024 Presidential Elections. 

However, AHY still upholds the presumption of innocence. He immediately wrote to President Jokowi regarding the information confided to him. “This morning I sent a letter to the honorable President Jokowi for clarification regarding the veracity of the information we received,” said AHY at the Democratic Party headquarters, Jakarta, Monday (1/2/2021). 

AHY alleged that the attempt to take over the Democratic Party leadership was carried out by five individuals, consisting of Democratic Party cadres and a non-cadre: one active cadre, one cadre who has been inactive for six years, one former cadre who had been dishonorably discharged after being convicted for corruption, and a former cadre who left the party three years ago. 

“Meanwhile, the non-cadre is a high-ranking government official, who, again, we are still confirming and clarifying with President Joko Widodo,” said the eldest son of Indonesia’s sixth President. 

The Executive Director of the Yudhoyono Institute revealed that Democratic Party leaders and cadres reported to him that they felt uncomfortable and even declined when approached and asked for support in the bid to replace the Democrat Party chairman. 

According to him, there was a solicitation for support to forcibly replace the party chairman via phone or an in-person meeting. “In their communication, we learned that their goal is to use the Democratic Party to nominate the mastermind as a presidential candidate in the upcoming 2024 General Election,” said AHY. 

AHY explained that the concepts and plans chosen by the perpetrators were to forcibly replace the legitimate chairman by holding an Extraordinary Congress (KLB) and the perpetrators were targeting the votes of 360 Democratic Party members. 

AHY said he saw indications of the move for over a month. “At first, we thought this was just a minor problem, an internal party affair. But then last week we started to receive reports of outsider involvement from the corridors of power; we are thus conducting an in-depth investigation,” he elaborated. 

During the press conference, AHY was accompanied by Democratic Party Secretary General Teuku Riefky Harsya, Honorary Council chairman Hinca Pandjaitan, High Council Chairman Nahrawi Ramli, several party members (some through video conferencing) and his wife Anisa Pohan. 

Once allegation of the coup was made public, several names associated with the move emerged as possible actors, including Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko, former Democratic Party Secretary General Marzuki Alie and senior Democratic Party politician Max Sopacua. 

“Actually, I don’t want to respond to baseless rumors because I try not to be reactive.” said Moeldoko in a response, during a virtual press statement, Monday (1/2) night. “However, because the press kept asking for my clarification, I decided it’s time to speak out.” 

“First, do not drag the Palace into this. I say this as a reminder. I repeat, the Palace and Pak Jokowi have nothing to do with this. He even doesn’t have any idea what this is about. This is my own business. Not as the Presidential Chief of Staff, but in a personal capacity,” stressed Moeldoko. 

He said that many guests have come to pay him a visit at his residence before. “As a former TNI commander, I am very open to anyone who wanted to meet me. My home is open 24 hours. A group of people came to see me, so I hosted them,” explained Moeldoko. 

Then, said Moeldoko, he heard his name linked to the Democratic Party leadership coup attempt. “Maybe that rumor came from photos. People from eastern Indonesia, from everywhere, wanted to take photos with me. So of course I said yes. What’s the big deal? That shows that a general should not barricade himself from other people. If this is the origin of that rumor, go ahead. I don’t mind,” he explained. 

He said that as a leader one must exhibit strong character and not easily swayed. “My advice is, be a strong leader, don’t become over-emotional, easily swayed and so on. If he [AHY] doesn’t want his men to go anywhere, just handcuff them. Also, the term coup always originates from inside, never outside,” Moeldoko observed. 

Meanwhile, former Democratic Party Secretary General Marzuki Alie challenged AHY to reveal the names of cadres suspected of taking part in the coup. According to him, AHY should not be afraid to reveal their names if there is merit to his accusation. 

Marzuki Alie said that AHY can be accused of defamation and slander against certain parties, including himself. The reason being there are many inactive cadres in the past six years. “Tell AHY, he risks committing slander if he makes vague insinuations. Six years ago, many cadres resigned and became inactive,” he said. He also asked AHY not to bring up his name into the matter. Marzuki Alie warned that he will not be hesitant to air Democratic Party’s dirty laundry if AHY keeps mentioning his name. 

Former Democrat Party senior politician Max Sopacua also spoke up after being named as one of the individuals involved in the coup. He was accused by the party’s High Council member Syarief Hasan, who also named M Nazaruddin, Johny Alen Marbun and Marzuki Alie as co-conspirators. Max Sopacua said Syarif Hasan’s accusation against him is baseless. “I don’t understand what is going on here. All these times I have just stayed at home to avoid Covid, but suddenly my name is mentioned. Where is the logic? In politics, one should observe first before speaking out. Don’t just spouting nonsense,” he fumed. 

He also thought Syarif’s accusation was excessive. Because there is absolutely no proof that there was a coup attempt against AHY. “Syarif doesn’t know what our daily activities are. Tell Pak Syarif not to be a bootlicker by blaming everyone,” said Max, seething. 

According to Ujang Komarudin, a political observer from Al Azhar Indonesia University (UAI), AHY has done the right thing. 

“If it wasn’t exposed, maybe the party would have been taken over this month. But because it has gone public, we are going to see where it will lead,” said Ujang. “In my opinion, this is not just AHY panicking, but there are indications of a grand scheme to overthrow him. In fact, the Democratic Party has identified the ones behind it,” he continued. 

Ujang refused to speculate whether the coup was due to AHY’s failure in consolidating the party during his nascent leadership. “The question is not about consolidation. It may or may not be true. But the way I see it, his position as the Democratic Party chairman is being targeted,” he said. 

The Executive Director of Indonesia Political Review believed that President Joko Widodo’s name was only being used by certain actors for their political interests. “I suspected there are people using Jokowi’s name as leverage,” said Ujang. 

However, Ujang said that the burden of proof lies with the Democratic Party to provide further evidence against the alleged coup. “Nothing is impossible in politics. But still the accusation has to be proven,” he concluded. (des)