03/04/2015, 00.00
INDONESIA
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Civil society groups in protest against new anti-corruption commission leaders

by Mathias Hariyadi
The appointment of former General Gunawan as national police chief is at the centre of the dispute. The commission's former leaders were forced out. The general's file has been moved to the Office of the Attorney General and to the police. Many fear that the investigation will be a whitewash, undermining the fight against graft.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Civil society groups organised a demonstration against the newly appointed leaders of Indonesia's Anti-Corruption Commission (Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi or KPK), demanding that the file regarding Budi Gunawan not be transferred to the Office of the Attorney General.

Members of at least 85 organisations took to the streets, demanding that the case involving the former general remain with the KPK.

The general is a candidate for the position of national police chief, a situation that has led to a major row, involving government agencies, elected officials and parties close to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, the police and ordinary Indonesians. In the ensuing tug of war, the two leading KPK officials were ousted. 

Human rights activists and local political experts note that the decision to dismiss Abraham Samad and his deputy Bambang Widjojanto has greatly weakened the KPK, which has led the fight against corruption in the recent past.

President Jokowi replaced them with former police General Taufiequrachman Ruki and conservative lawyer Seno Adjie, both of whom are deemed weak and easy to influence.

One of the first moves of the new leaders involved General Gunawan, whose file was transferred yesterday from the KPK to the Office of the Attorney General and, later, to the police.

Therefore, the investigation into the former general will likely close without any actions taken against him. This will remove any obstacle to his appointment as head of police.

The case has dismayed civil society groups, who fear a progressive weakening of the fight against corruption, one of the main issues that allowed reformist President Jokowi to win the presidential election last year.

Now Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian better known by the nickname Ahok, is involved in his own fight against corruption.

He has complained about irregularities and anomalies in the way the Council manages resources in the governatorate; in particular, the role played by major political figures and MPs over the purchase of uninterruptable power supply (UPS) machines.

The gradual weakening of the anti-corruption Commission threatens to undermine the governor's efforts. The latter presented the KPK with two suitcases full of evidence regarding the fraud.

The attack against the KPK comes after a string of successes during the past three years, in which it was able to clamp down on bribery and malfeasance.

Some illustrious personages in the world's most populous Muslim nation were caught in the KPK net, including some high-ranking officials in the country's justice system, politics and economy.

For instance, a prominent minister in the previous government as well as the chief justice of the Constitutional Court have been arrested.

The anticorruption agency uncovered scandals in the oil industry and the behind-the-scene intrigues that led to the re-election of a former governor of the Central Bank.

The 16-year sentence inflicted on Lutfi Hasan, a former MP and head of the Islamist Justice and Prosperous Party (Partai Keadilan Sejahtera or PKS), is one of the toughest verdicts ever.

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