An independent team set up to investigate the standoff between the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and the National Police, recommended on Wednesday that President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo drop the candidacy of Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan as the next police chief.
- standoff – a situation in which neither side has won a competition or argument, or an occasion when someone prevents officials from acting, usually by threatening violence
The nine-member team, set up by Jokowi to embark on a fact-finding mission on the KPK-police standoff, recommended the President not to inaugurate Budi and find a replacement soon.
- embark – to go on to a ship or an aircraft
The chairman of the team, prominent Muslim scholar Ahmad Syafii Maarif, read out the team’s recommendations on Wednesday at the State Secretariat after a meeting at the State Palace with Jokowi.
“The President should not install a police chief candidate who is a [graft] suspect and should consider proposing new candidates for the next police chief so that the force can immediately have new leadership,” Syafii said.
Syafii also said Jokowi was pressured by his alliance of political parties to nominate and inaugurate Budi.
“Pak Jokowi has too many burdens. He should take side with the people who elected him, not the parties,” he said.
In its recommendation, the team, which was set up amid public outcry over the arrest of KPK deputy chairman Bambang Widjojanto for alleged perjury, also urged the President to reaffirm his commitment to corruption eradication and law enforcement.
- outcry – a strong expression of public anger and disapproval
As for the KPK and the National Police, the team recommended that the two institutions uphold their codes of ethics.
Team member and international law expert Hikmahanto Juwana said the standoff was extraordinary as it was a scenario that had never been predicted in the drafting of the 2002 Police Law, which stipulates that the police chief can only be nominated by the president but also requires endorsement from members of the House of Representatives.
“What is happening now is an anomaly,” he said.
“[Therefore] the head of government must step up to the plate to maintain the credibility of both the police and the KPK,” Hikmahanto said.
Cabinet Secretary Andi Widjajanto declined to comment on the recommendations, or on whether Jokowi would implement them.
Analysts and graft watchdogs have called for the cancelation of Budi’s nomination given that he has been named a graft suspect by the KPK.
Constitutional law expert Feri Amsari said it should be easy for Jokowi to drop Budi’s candidacy.
“Jokowi must honor the recommendations from a team that he set up. Besides, it is possible in our legal system because the president is the supreme leader of the National Police,” he said.
Many view that Jokowi’s apparent indecisiveness regarding the candidacy of Budi has resulted in an ongoing standoff between the KPK and the police.
Meanwhile, many also believe that Budi is in control of the force, a position that allowed him to launch an attack on the KPK’s commissioners.
His move had allegedly won support from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), which had fought for his nomination.
Budi was an adjutant to PDI-P chairperson Megawati Soekarnoputri when she was the country’s president between 2001 and 2004.
Speculation was rife that the PDI-P was starting to distance itself from Jokowi, especially after some of the party’s politicians strongly criticized the President’s performance and threatened impeachment proceedings.
Feri said PDI-P members were bluffing with talk of impeaching Jokowi. “The threat of impeachment is just a tool to scare [him]. The Constitution makes impeachment very difficult,” he said.
The PDI-P, however, appeared to retreat, after some of its politicians reiterated their commitment to support Jokowi to lead the country throughout the next five years.
“We endorsed Pak Jokowi’s presidential nomination. As a ruling party, we will continue to support him and all of his policies as long as they don’t violate the Constitution,” said PDI-P lawmaker Dwi Ria Latifa.
Fellow PDI-P politician Junimart Girsang shrugged off speculation that Megawati had insisted on having Budi inaugurated soon.
“Bu Mega has never interfered with us, let alone with the government,” Junimart said.
He said that the party’s call for Jokowi to inaugurate Budi was meant to “uphold the law”.
What Jokowi must do, according to independent team
1. The President should order the resignation of any individuals within the National Police and the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), once they are named suspects, to maintain the credibility of law enforcement institutions
2. The President should not inaugurate a police chief candidate who is a suspect and should consider nominating new police chief candidate(s)
3. The President should stop all efforts to criminalize personnel from any law enforcement agencies both at the police or the KPK
4. The President should order the police and the KPK to enforce their codes of ethics
5. The President should reaffirm his commitment to corruption eradication and law enforcement
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