Indonesian police arrest Islamist ally of president for suspected graft

JAKARTA, March 15 - The head of an influential Islamist party that is a member of President Joko Widodo’s ruling coalition was arrested for alleged graft on Friday, according to police.

The arrest of Muhammad Romahurmuziy, 44, head of the United Development Party (PPP) comes just about a month ahead of legislative and presidential elections on April 17, in which Widodo is seeking re-election.

Romahurmuziy was taken into police custody in East Java in relation to a case being handled by the country’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), though the specifics of the case were unclear.

“He is currently being held at police headquarters in Sidoarjo,” said East Java police spokesman, Frans Barung Mangera. Preparations were being made to transfer the politician to Jakarta, he added.

The anti-graft agency did not immediately respond to requests for comment. It has 24 hours to determine Romahurmuziy’s status as suspect or release him.

PPP, which controls 7 percent of parliament, is expected to canvas the conservative Muslim vote for Widodo, whose religious credentials have been attacked by opponents.

Widodo’s campaign team is scheduled to hold a news conference later on Friday.