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Indonesian Parliament Approves Controversial Police Appointment

FILE - Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri, flanked by her adjutant Colonel Budi Gunawan (R) and ceremony commander Police Commissioner Sunaryono (L) at the 56th anniversary of the country's police force in Jakarta, July 1, 2002.

Indonesia's parliament has approved the controversial appointment of General Budi Gunawan as chief of the national police despite allegations that he has been involved in corruption.

Speaker Taufik Kurniawan says he was approved by a plenary session Thursday after a positive report from a parliament commission.

However, the Democratic Party (PD) and PAN party voted against the appointment.

Benny K. Harman, deputy chairman of the Democratic Party faction in parliament, says the general's presence in the post will hurt the credibility of the national police.

“If General Budi Gunawan is to become the Chief of Police [KAPOLRI] as a suspect [of corruption], for sure Indonesian police [POLRI] would never gain people’s confidence, after all POLRI is also required to actively enforce the law including combating corruption,” said Harman.

Emerson Yunto, a coordinator with Indonesia Corruption Watch, criticized President Joko Widodo for failing to have the general properly vetted for suspicious financial dealings.

“The most appropriate entities to assess whether the transactions are normal or suspicious are the [Corruption Watch Commission] KPK and the [Center for Financial Transactions Reporting and Analysis] PPATK, which were not asked to be involved," Yunto said.

Supporters of the president say the appointment of Budi Gunawan, who would talk with reporters after the vote in parliament, was based on the recommendation of the National Police Commission.

A senior commission official has said the investigation showed there is no ongoing issue with the general. He added KPK and PPATK were not involved in the investigation because there was not enough time. It is not known yet when Budi Gunawan will be sworn into his new post.

President Widodo, who is widely known as Jokowi, has said running a clean government is a top priority of his. Almost all of his other major appointees have been vetted by the KPK before taking their posts.

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