Tensions at the palace


SOME called them the Dynamic Duo and cheered when they formed a team for the election last year. But these days, the talk is more about their rivalry.

An indication of the tensions was apparent recently when President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono criticised the National Disaster Coordinating Council over the tsunami disaster work in Aceh.

Some observers saw the remarks as criticism of Vice-President Jusuf Kalla, who is in charge of that agency.

Clearly there are two emerging centres of power in the palace now. But both leaders and their respective camps see their political fortunes intertwined for the foreseeable future.

Mr Arbi Sanit of the University of Indonesia explained: ‘They will be riding on each other’s coat-tails for the next few years. Jusuf Kalla is using the palace to further his own presidential ambitions in 2009.

‘But the President cannot go solo. He needs Jusuf’s support to build up his financial base and grassroots support outside Java and to rein in Parliament.’

The reason for the tensions is Mr Jusuf’s refusal to be a lame-duck No. 2.

Also, his election as Golkar chairman might have ruffled feathers among some supporters in the palace.

But, as a presidential aide explained, Dr Yudhoyono did not think twice about backing Mr Jusuf for the Golkar post.

‘The President wanted to control Parliament and push through his policies to strengthen his chances for re-election in 2009.’

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