Recommendation on Jakarta governor's suspension

Jakarta's Christian governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (C), better known by his nickname Ahok, is escorted by anti-terror police as he leaves the North Jakarta court in Jakarta on December 20, 2016.

JAKARTA  - A recommendation to suspend Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama is being processed by the Home Ministry following the receipt of a letter from the North Jakarta District Court, expounding charges of blasphemy against him on Monday.

The Home Ministry is processing a recommendation for Jakarta Governor Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama to be suspended after receiving a letter from the North Jakarta District Court explaining the blasphemy charges against Ahok on Monday.

"We are processing the minister's recommendation regarding Ahok's suspension to submit to the President soon," the secretary to the ministry's director general of regional autonomy, Anselmus Tan, told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

According to the 2014 Regional Administrations Law, a court can notify the Home Ministry if a regional leader faces a criminal charge that carries a maximum prison sentence of five years or more.

Ahok has been charged under articles 156 and 156a of the Criminal Code on blasphemy, which carry maximum sentences of four and five years' imprisonment, respectively.

"We have used the alternative article in the charge (Article 156a), which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, in our recommendation. It will be up to the President to decide about the suspension," he said.

The law regulates that a governor or deputy governor who faces criminal charges can be suspended by a presidential decree, Anselmus said.

Previously, Sumarsono, the ministry's director general of regional autonomy, said that should Ahok be suspended, Jakarta Deputy Governor Djarot Saiful Hidayat would be appointed acting governor until October 2017.

A newly elected governor and deputy governor will be inaugurated in December 2017, he explained.

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