Indonesia President Joko's pick for police chief named corruption suspect

JAKARTA (REUTERS) - Indonesia's anti-graft agency on Tuesday named President Joko Widodo's sole nomination for police chief a bribery suspect, a blemish on the new leader, who came to office in October promising clean government.

Mr Joko on Saturday said three-star general Budi Gunawan would be his only candidate to head the police, considered by many to be one of the most corrupt institutions in the country.

"Gunawan has been named a suspect by the KPK for holding suspect bank accounts when he was the chief of the police's bureau of human resources," said an official with the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), who declined to be named because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

Gunawan, who is currently the head of police training, could not be reached for comment.

Mr Joko told reporters on Monday he chose Gunawan on recommendation from the National Police Commission.

"This will be discussed with the National Police Commission as consideration material for the president in making a decision," Mr Tedjo Edi Purdijatno, coordinating minister of politics, law and security, told Reuters.

The nomination has to be approved by parliament.

Mr Joko took the unprecedented step of asking the KPK to vet his Cabinet picks. He did not seek similar action for his choice of police chief.

But some experts see Widodo's choice as a political manoeuvre. Gunawan is close to Megawati Sukarnoputri, former president and leader of the president's political party. "(Mr Joko's) nomination is actually a politically-savvy move," said Mr Tobias Basuki, political analyst at the CSIS think-tank.

"After getting all the people he wanted in the Cabinet, he can capitulate on this."