Head of Indonesia's ruling party steps down

Anas Urbaningrum resigns a day after country's anti-corruption watchdog accuses him of receiving illegal payments.

    Urbaningrum says he only stepped down as part of the Democratic Party's 'integrity pact' [Reuters]
    Urbaningrum says he only stepped down as part of the Democratic Party's 'integrity pact' [Reuters]

    A day after the Indonesia's anti-corruption commission named him as a suspect in a case, the head of the country's ruling party has resigned.

    Anas Urbaningrum, who was elected in 2010 as general chairman of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Democratic Party, announced his resignation on Saturday in a news conference at the party's headquarters.

    The Corruption Eradication Commission declared Urbaningrum, 43, on Friday a suspect, accusing him of receiving payments in connection with the construction of a sports complex in West Java province.

    The commission did not specify what kind of payments were allegedly received by Urbaningrum.

    Media speculation

    Media reports say a contractor gave Urbaningrum a car worth about $75,000 while he was a legislator and head of the party's faction in parliament before being elected as party chairman.

    "I resign as general chairman of the Democratic Party," Urbaningrum said, noting that his decision was based on the party's standard of ethics.

    Urbaningrum's resignation was widely expected as all Democratic Party officials had recently signed an "integrity pact" to give up their posts if named a corruption suspect.

    Urbaningrum, who has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, could face a minimum sentence of four years in jail if found guilty.

    Party members were scheduled to meet on Sunday to decide on a new chairman.

    Recent cases

    The case is the latest blow to the party's reputation and to Yudhoyono, who ran as the Mr Clean of Indonesian politics in his 2009 re-election campaign.

    Late last year, another party official, sports minister Andi Mallarangeng, was named a suspect in a corruption case involving the same $122m sports complex in Hambalang village.

    A former beauty queen and Democratic Party legislator, Angelina Sondakh, was sentenced last month to four and a half years in jail after being found guilty of accepting $3.6m in kickbacks in connection with construction of a housing complex for athletes at the 2011 Southeast Asian Games.

    Last year, Muhammad Nazaruddin, Democratic Party treasurer, was sentenced to four years in jail for corruption.

    Last December Indonesia slid to 118th of 176 countries ranked by Transparency International's annual index, which rates the least to the most corrupt states.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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