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Indonesian President Close to Finalizing Cabinet, Expands Team

  • Reuters

New Indonesian President Joko Widodo walks inside the presidential palace in Jakarta Oct. 21, 2014.

New Indonesian President Joko Widodo walks inside the presidential palace in Jakarta Oct. 21, 2014.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has finalized “99 percent” of his cabinet, quickly filling gaps in his ministerial team after the anti-graft agency rejected some of his candidates, a senior adviser said on Thursday.

Sworn in on Monday, Widodo took the unprecedented step of asking anti-graft agencies to vet his cabinet picks to fulfill a campaign pledge for a government free of corruption. He had to make last minute changes after eight candidates were rejected.

“As of 4 p.m. today, relatively all positions are filled - 99 percent,” Andi Wijajanto, an adviser to Widodo, told reporters after meeting with the president.

A list of the cabinet ministers has not yet been released, but an announcement was expected this week.

The first Indonesian leader from outside the political or military elite has tried to steer clear of the traditional trading of cabinet posts for political support, aiming for a ministerial team dominated by professional technocrats.

In a last minute change, Widodo added one more cabinet post that will be a political appointee. His team will now be made up of 34 ministers, consisting of 18 technocrats and 16 from political parties in his coalition, Wijajanto said.

The former Jakarta governor plans to merge several ministries and introduce a coordinating ministry for maritime affairs.

All eyes are on Widodo's choices for the main economic ministries. They will inherit problems ranging from a widening current budget deficit and cooling investment to the slowest growth since 2009.

He has promised that top ministerial positions, including finance, energy and state-owned enterprises, would be filled by technocrats.

Widodo's ministerial choices by law must first be submitted to the head of parliament before an announcement can be made, Wijajanto said. The president does not need parliamentary approval for his cabinet.

“The president will politically communicate with the speaker of parliament to maintain good relations,” Wijajanto said.

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