Megawati bares her teeth

Megawati bares her teeth
Power base: President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and former president and chairwoman of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) Megawati Soekarnoputri greet party members during the fourth PDI-P national congress in Sanur, Bali, on Thursday. The congress elected Megawati as party leader for the 2015-2020 period.

The national congress of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) on Thursday officially reelected Megawati Soekarnoputri as chairwoman for the fourth consecutive time since 1999, reinforcing her grip on the party that controls the current government.

Following her unanimous reelection, Megawati used her speech to remind all party members that she was fully in charge and instructed President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to toe the party line.

In an emotional speech, Megawati claimed that it was only thanks to her that Jokowi had become the country's sixth president.

"It goes without saying that the President and Vice President must toe the party line, because the party policies are consistent with what the public wants," she claimed.

Her voice rising, Megawati warned Jokowi against breaking his campaign promises. "I have said this again and again, please stick to the Constitution. Fulfill your campaign promises because they are your sacred bond with the people," Megawati said, to the thunderous applause of party members attending the national congress at the Inna Grand Bali Beach Hotel.

The former president also sent out a warning to what she called "opportunists" from outside the party who were attempting to block the party's role as the governing party and distance it from Jokowi's administration.

She elaborated that these "opportunists" were unaffiliated with, and critical of, political parties, and were waiting to seize power and hand it back to those she termed "capitalists".

"These people are opportunists. They don't want to work hard to build [political] parties. They don't want to organise people. They're just waiting for the right moment to move against us," Megawati said.

The statement won rousing applause from the audience, some of whom shouted "Merdeka!" (freedom) at intervals.

Megawati did not specify against whom exactly her sombre warnings were directed, but called directly on Jokowi to be vigilant against such enemies, and to honour the 1945 Constitution in running the country.

In February, the PDI-P politicians launched attacks against members of President Jokowi's administration, calling for the resignations of Cabinet Secretary Andi Widjajanto and State-Owned Enterprises Minister Rini Soemarno, whom they accused of intentionally undermining the President.

The PDI-P politicians accused Andi and Rini - both known to be close confidants of the President - of leading Jokowi astray from the party line.

Recently, it was reported that the targets of Megawati's wrath included Presidential Chief of Staff Luhut Panjaitan, a former military general and, until recently, member of the Golkar Party.

Neither Luhut, Andi or Rini were spotted at the PDI-P congress.

Responding to Megawati's speech, Jokowi, who was invited as a regular party member and not in his capacity as the country's current President, praised his leader's speech.

"It was very good," the President told reporters on the sidelines of the congress.

Jokowi also said he understood Megawati's exhortations to serve the people.

"The job of a leader is to serve the people, and nothing else. That's what I understand from Ibu Mega's speech," he said.

He rejected suggestions that Megawati's speech was a sarcastic way of warning him to improve communications with the party that had backed him in the presidential election.

"We communicate every day. There is no problem. Internal communication is also maintained,"

Megawati found time in her speech to dismiss direct election mechanisms as an import from the West, and also reminded party members to step up their preparations for the regional elections set for late this year.

"We have only eight months to prepare. After this congress, we won't get another chance to sit together to make preparations ahead of the simultaneous elections," she said.  

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