Indonesian court backs tycoon Bakrie to lead main opposition party

Reuters News
Posted: May 18, 2015 5:55 AM

JAKARTA (Reuters) - An Indonesian court on Monday ruled that tycoon Aburizal Bakrie was leader of the country's largest opposition party, dashing rivals' hopes the party would defect to the ruling coalition under a different leader.

The party, Golkar, controls nearly 15 percent of seats in parliament and has been embroiled in a leadership dispute for months. Some top party members have suggested joining President Joko Widodo's minority ruling coalition.

The dispute ended up in court and on Monday, Judge Satya Bakti told a hearing in Jakarta the court recognized Bakrie's leadership of the party.

Golkar Secretary General Idrus Marham, a Bakrie supporter, said the ruling meant the party would remain in opposition.

"From the start, we've been committed to the opposition and this decision confirms it," he said. "We will stay outside the government but ... we have no intention to disrupt government."

Bakrie, patriarch of the family-owned Bakrie Group conglomerate, backed defeated presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto a presidential election last year.

But disgruntled party members mounted a bid to oust him when Golkar, the political vehicle of former authoritarian ruler Suharto, failed to make it into government for the first time ever.

The Ministry for Law and Human Rights in March issued a decree recognizing Bakrie's rival as party chief, paving the way for Golkar to join the governing coalition.

A ministry spokesman declined to comment on Monday's court ruling.

(Reporting by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Randy Fabi)