September 15, 2014 / 11:09 AM / 4 years ago

Indonesia's president-elect Widodo looks to technocrats for cabinet

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia’s president-elect Joko Widodo said on Monday just over half of the members of his cabinet will be technocrats, including the ministers of finance, energy and state-owned enterprises.

Indonesia's president-elect Joko Widodo (centre L) gestures while his vice president-elect Jusuf Kalla looks on as they prepare to speak with the media at their transition headquarters in Jakarta September 15, 2014. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside

Widodo, who won a July election and will take office on Oct. 20, has promised a technocratic government in a country with a long tradition of ministers being appointed for political reasons.

“What is most important is that we want to build a strong cabinet,” Widodo told a news conference in Jakarta.

He said of the 34 ministerial positions, 18 would be filled by professionals while the rest would be “party professionals”.

Andi Wijajanto, an adviser to Widodo, told Reuters that meant ministers could be “from political parties but they must be experts in that field”.

Widodo did not name any cabinet ministers. He is expected to announce his team in early October.

In a departure from outgoing president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s unwieldy coalition-building, Widodo has tried to avoid cutting deals with political parties in exchange for support but he faces pressure from within his camp to share out power.

Yudhoyono faced criticism during his second term for making political appointments to key portfolios such as the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry.

The energy minister, a senior figure in Yudhoyono’s ruling Democratic Party, stepped down this month after the anti-graft agency identified him as a suspect in a graft case. He has vouched for his integrity and agreed to follow the legal process.

Widodo, flanked by his transition team, announced minor changes to the cabinet structure in a bid to streamline the bureaucracy.

Reporting by Yayat Supriyatna and Fergus Jensen; Writing by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Robert Birsel

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