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Nomination for National Police Chief Spurs Protest in Indonesia

This Antara Foto image shows Bambang Widjojanto, center, deputy chairman of the the Anti-Corruption Commission, speaking to reporters after his release at police headquarters in Jakarta, Jan. 24, 2015.

Hundreds of Indonesian activists — including students, farmers and members of labor organizations — rallied Wednesday outside the presidential palace in Jakarta to protest the nomination of a corruption suspect to head the national police.

President Joko Widodo, widely known as Jokowi, has taken the unusual step of having almost all of his high-ranking appointees vetted by the nation's Anti-Corruption Commission (KPK). But one glaring exception was General Budi Gunawan, whom the KPK has named a corruption suspect.

Andi Aulia Rahman, chairman of the University of Indonesia’s student organization, said students were disappointed with the president's plan to appoint Gunawan.

"Indeed there are very strong indications," he said. "We’re seeing that Jokowi is still under such big pressure, not only from parties’ elites but also from the justice system mafias."

Protesters said they also were angry at the criminal investigation of KPK Deputy Chairman Bambang Widjianto, who was arrested last week but has since been freed.

The president, who has not indicated whether he will finalize the appointment of Gunawan, has said legal procedures against both men must be transparent.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Indonesian service.