Indonesian President Hints at Many New Faces In Cabinet Lineup

Just a few days before announcing the much-awaited lineup of his new cabinet, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono hinted that only a few current ministers would serve him for another term. Speaking at a farewell to the outgoing cabinet at the State Palace, Yudhoyono said most members of the 34-seat cabinet that will end its tenure on Tuesday will not be returning as he begins his second five-year term. “I ask for your understanding. A small number [of the current ministers] will continue to work in the cabinet, while most, in line with my explanation, will have to enter new areas of service,” Yudhoyono said. He did not mention any names. Yudhoyono said the cabinet and the government needed to be refreshed and respond to the new political reality resulting from the two elections this year: the legislative poll in April and the presidential election in July. Although more than 20 parties joined a coalition backing Yudhoyono’s re-election bid, only four were long-time allies, including in the legislature. They were the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), the National Awakening Party (PKB), the United Development Party (PPP) and the National Mandate Party (PAN). Sources at the palace said PKS may get three cabinet seats, while the three other parties stood to receive two seats each. Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party, which won both the legislative and presidential elections, will take more seats, the sources said. But also in the equation are the Golkar Party and the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P). Golkar, which has pledged to cooperate with the government after its chairmanship fell into the hands of Aburizal Bakrie, Yudhoyono’s coordinating minister for people’s welfare, is also eyeing cabinet seats. PDI-P, in opposition to the current government, appears split on whether to remain in opposition or join the coalition. While the party has yet to take an official stance, its chairwoman, former President Megawati Sukarnoputri, has been adamant about wanting to keep the party outside of the ruling coalition. However, her husband, Taufik Kiemas, who heads the PDI-P’s Central Advisory Board, has said the party will accept cabinet positions if they were offered. Sources at the palace have said that of the current cabinet members, five had a strong chance of being named in the next lineup, although not to the same portfolios. The five current cabinet members were State Secretary Hatta Rajasa, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu, Communications and Information Minister Muhammad Nuh and Tourism and Culture Minister Jero Wacik. The new cabinet lineup is scheduled to be announced next week.

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