Indonesia swears in new police chief after bitter feud

Indonesia swears in new police chief after bitter feud
Indonesian President Joko Widodo (R) shakes hands with new national police chief, Police General Badrodin Haiti (L) after the official swearing-in ceremony at the presidential palace in Jakarta on April 17, 2015.

JAKARTA - Indonesian President Joko Widodo swore in a new national police chief Friday, ending a long-running saga over the powerful appointment that tested his leadership and commitment to fight corruption in the graft-prone country.

Acting police chief Badrodin Haiti was inaugurated in a ceremony in Jakarta a day after being approved by parliament, which must endorse new appointees.

However, the former number two in the force was not Widodo's first choice for the position.

In January he nominated Budi Gunawan -- a politically-connected police general under investigation for bribery -- disappointing those who hoped the new president would usher in cleaner governance in a graft-ridden country.

But just days later Gunawan was named a suspect in a bribery case, sparking a very public feud between the popular graft-busting agency and the notoriously corrupt police that transfixed Indonesians for weeks and tested Widodo for the first time.

Widodo stalled but eventually dumped the controversial candidate, sparking threats of impeachment from many political parties -- including from Widodo's own coalition -- who wanted to see Gunawan inaugurated.

Haiti was nominated as a replacement and has been acting in the top job since February.

He promised to use his position to forge closer ties with the corruption agency, which has clashed with the police and other powerful bodies in the past as it sought to improve Indonesia's poor record on graft.

Transparency International ranked Indonesia 107th out of 175 countries in its annual corruption perceptions index last year. A number one ranking means the least corrupt.

Indonesians surveyed by the think-tank considered the police force the most corrupt institution in the country.

 

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