01/26/2015, 00.00
INDONESIA
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The "war" between police and anti-corruption agency shows President Jokowi's weakness

by Mathias Hariyadi
The power struggle currently underway in Indonesia is threatening the country's stability. The corruption watchdog blocked the appointment of a close associate of former President Megawati to the post of police chief. As a result, the anti-corruption agency's chief has become the victim of a smear campaign, whilst his deputy chief has been arrested. Human rights activists and civil society groups have taken to the streets to defend the rule of law. The president is a hostage of those powerful groups that backed his presidency bid.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Top officials with Indonesia's Anti-Corruption Commission (Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi or KPK) have come under a frontal attack from police brass.

Such a conflict threatens a rift in the country's top law enforcement institutions and undermines President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

Activists and human rights organisations have in fact taken to the streets to defend the KPK. After starting a twitter campaign with the hashtag #SaveKPK, they appealed to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

The failure to appoint General Budi Gunawan as the new police chief sparked the controversy, leading to the arrest of KPK deputy chief Bambang Widjojanto, as well as a smear campaign against its chief, Abraham Samad. 

In the past few weeks, General Gunawan, a close associate of former Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri, leader of the party that brought the current president Jokowi to power, has come under the scrutiny of the anticorruption agency. Previous KPK reports had already sunk two other candidates to prominent positions within the new administration.

Behind the scenes, many pushed Gunawan's candidacy as police chief, including newly elected reformist President Jokowi, who had won the election on a pledge of fighting corruption.

However, the KPK thwarted the appointment - which already had received the parliament's greenlight - labelling it inadequate and unacceptable.

The president followed this by freezing all appointments pending an inquiry. However soon enough, the anti-corruption commission met its match.

Quickly, KPK chief Abraham Samad became the object of a smear campaign. He is accused of kissing a young woman at a beauty pageantry. In reality, the image of the two together was photomontage.

Police took KPK deputy chief Bambang Widjojanto into custody for interrogation in connection with his role in the Constitutional Court in relation to a fight between two parties each claiming victory in the case of an election to a regency post.

The attacks against the leaders of the anti-corruption agency have caused an outcry across the country, with the members of human and civil rights groups taking to the streets to defend the two officials.

Ordinary Indonesians are appealing to President Jokowi, who, despite his moral and political integrity, seems increasingly hostage to the power games of the forces that led him to the presidency.

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

Some illustrious personages in the world's most populous Muslim nation have been 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 revealed scandals in the oil industry and the behind-the-scene intrigues that led to the re-election of the former governor of the Central Bank.

Corruption also played a crucial in role in last April's parliamentary election and July's presidential poll.

In some trials, a number of defendants ended with up to ten years in prison.

With 16-year sentence, Lutfi Hasan, a former MP and head of Islamist Justice and Prosperous Party (PKS), got one of the toughest verdicts.

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