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Indonesia president's family tightens grip on stumbling ruling party

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Thu, 14 Feb 2013 10:45 GMT
Author: Reuters
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JAKARTA, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has turned to one of his sons to help him rescue the ruling party which opinion polls suggest faces crushing defeat in an election next year.

Late last week, Yudhoyono effectively ditched the chairman of the Democratic Party, who has become its latest member to be embroiled in a corruption scandal. Yudhoyono said he would take charge of the party.

"I will concentrate on performing my duties as secretary general of the Democratic Party," the Kompas daily website quoted the son, Edhie Baskoro Yudhoyono, commonly called Ibas, as saying, adding he was stepping down as a member of parliament.

The comments also follow some media criticism of the son for rarely turning up at parliament.

The Democratic Party's latest problems surround its chairman, Anas Urbaningrum, who has been linked to a graft case involving the construction of a sports stadium. A leaked document widely reported in the media said he had been named a suspect in the case by the powerful Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) but there has been no official confirmation.

Anas, who remains nominal party chairman, went on national television on Thursday to sign an integrity pledge Yudhoyono told all party members to agree to as part of attempts to raise the party's badly damaged reputation.

In December, Yudhoyono's sports minister was forced to step down after being named as a suspect in a bribery investigation by the KPK.

Next year also sees a presidential election after Yudhoyono's second and final term ends.

There is no clear front-runner to replace him and none of the known candidates appears to have much chance of winning without forming an alliance with another major political party.

Most of the leading political parties have at least one official, in some cases several, who has been the focus of the corruption agency's investigations.

Indonesia has long been listed among the world's most corrupt societies. Increasingly that has included its members of parliament in a country which has had barely a decade of democracy. (Reporting by Jonathan Thatcher; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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