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Flashback to New Order: Active military officers can become regional leaders

Jakarta Globe - May 26, 2022

Jakarta – Active military and police officers can serve as acting governors or mayors while awaiting regional elections for new leaders across the country in 2024, according to the chief political and security minister.

The 2014 law on civil servants stipulates that soldiers and police may occupy certain posts in the civilian bureaucracy as long as their structural authority equals to their military/police ranks, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Mahfud MD said in a video conference on Wednesday.

"The Constitutional Court has recently issued a verdict stating that members of the military and the police who are assigned to middle or high level [civilian] posts can be appointed as [acting] regional leaders," said Mahfud, himself is a former Constitutional Court chief justice.

In fact, appointing active officers as interim regional leaders has become a common practice over the last five years, particularly in 2020 when local elections increased the fear of exploding Covid-19 cases, he said.

"So appointing a service member as an interim regional leader is acceptable by the law, the government regulation, and the Constitutional Court verdict," Mahfud said.

His remarks came after a group of non-governmental organizations issued a joint statement criticizing the appointment of Brigadier General Andi Chandra as an interim district head in the eastern province of Maluku while awaiting the 2024 local election.

The army general currently serves as the provincial intelligence head in Central Sulawesi. The group said that the appointment was against democratic principles and a violation to the Constitution.

The country underwent a massive political reform after the downfall of long-serving President Soharto in 1998, ending the so-called New Order era in which political power was centralized in Jakarta under a heavily military-ruled governance system.

Most districts, cities, and provinces in the country were led by Soeharto-appointed military officers mainly from the Army during his 32-year tenure.

After the landmark 1999 general election, the country adopted key reforms that ban military and police personnel from holding civilian posts and introduce direct elections for the president and regional leaders.

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/news/flashback-to-new-order-active-military-officers-can-become-regional-leader