President Seeks Coalition Loyalty Amid Scandals

JAKARTA ~ President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called for loyalty from his coalition partners this week as his government struggles early in his second term to deal with a string of graft scandals.

The centrist ex-general reminded his coalition allies that they had signed a loyalty pact as he announced new appointments to vice-ministerial posts.

“Let’s proceed according to the integrity pact and working contract that you all signed,” he said in an address on Wednesday to an audience including all his cabinet ministers.

“We all signed that coalition agreement and I will evaluate it with the hope that everybody is solid, loyal and consistent with what we have signed.”

Yudhoyono was re-elected in a landslide in July but his new rainbow coalition has been beset by party infighting and allegations over a controversial bank bailout.

Certain coalition partners have been pursuing a parliamentary probe into the roles of Vice President Boediono and Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati in the Rp6.7-trillion (US$723-million) rescue of Bank Century in 2008.

Boediono and Indrawati, who strongly deny any wrongdoing, are two of the most respected economic brains in Yudhoyono’s team, but as independent technocrats they are filling posts coveted by coalition party chiefs.

The Bank Century bailout has been condemned by government auditors and linked to allegations of graft involving political cronies and campaign finance for Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party.

Yudhoyono, who campaigned on promises of clean government, has denied allegations that his party funnelled some of the money through charitable organisations into its election war chest.

The bank scandal follows on the heels of another corruption furore related to an alleged conspiracy among police and prosecutors to frame top anti-corruption investigators.

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