World

Indonesia's new House Speaker is a critic of Widodo's govt

JAKARTA Indonesia's Parliament is swearing in Mr Bambang Soesatyo as its new Speaker, his party said, a critic of President Joko Widodo's government who was appointed after the last speaker was indicted in a $170 million graft scandal.

Mr Soesatyo is a long-time member of Golkar, the second largest party in Mr Widodo's coalition and which controls leadership of the House. Golkar appointed him to replace Setya Novanto, who was forced to resign late last year.

Analysts said his appointment could mean tougher negotiations in Parliament for Mr Widodo's government as it tries to push through reforms in the last year of his term before legislative and presidential elections in 2019.

"Jokowi may not have full control over the house like he did with the previous speaker," said Endy Bayuni, senior editor at The Jakarta Post newspaper. Jokowi is Mr Widodo's nickname.

"Soesatyo's support is not automatic. Jokowi has to ensure that Golkar remains loyal to him," Bayuni said.

Mr Soesatyo has criticised Mr Widodo's handling of the economy, highlighting bureaucratic inefficiency and slow budget disbursement.

He also criticised Mr Widodo's appointment of Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, a former World Bank director, saying it showed that his government was vulnerable to foreign influences.

Some see Mr Soesatyo's appointment as a missed opportunity for institutional reform.

He previously served on the parliamentary commission for legal affairs, where he lobbied for the popular anti-corruption agency's powers to be restricted. - REUTERS

WORLD