Indonesia's counter-terrorism chief emerges as President Joko Widodo's choice for police chief

Indonesia's counter-terrorism chief Tito Karnavian, shown here in a file photo, has emerged as President Joko Widodo's choice to replace retiring police chief Badrodin Haiti.
Indonesia's counter-terrorism chief Tito Karnavian, shown here in a file photo, has emerged as President Joko Widodo's choice to replace retiring police chief Badrodin Haiti. PHOTO: THE JAKARTA POST

JAKARTA - Indonesia's counter-terrorism chief Tito Karnavian has emerged as President Joko Widodo's choice to replace retiring police chief Badrodin Haiti.

"It is true that today the President submitted a request for the approval of police chief candidates to Parliament and the name he proposed is General Tito Karnavian," said presidential spokesman Johan Budi on Wednesday (June 15).

"In naming Tito Karnavian, (Mr Joko) is the first president to have taken input from various parties, including the National Police Commission, the police and the public," said Mr Johan.

House Speaker Ade Komarudin had revealed earlier in the day that the President submitted only one candidate for the top job in the national police force.

Gen Badrodin retires in August and speculation of his successor had dominated the headlines in Jakarta in recent weeks.

Despite rumours that Mr Joko may take the unconventional decision to extend Gen Badrodin's tenure, there was also widespread speculation that his retirement could open the door for deputy police chief Budi Gunawan to finally take the job.

Gen Budi, a former adjutant to then President Megawati Soekarnoputri, was widely expected to have been appointed police chief in January last year.

At the time, Mr Joko had made what was regarded as a controversial decision to nominate Gen Budi because the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) had declared the general a graft suspect for alleged financial misdeeds in his capacity as head of the National Police Career Development Bureau.

Bowing to public pressure, Mr Joko later appointed Gen Badrodin instead.

However, Gen Budi has since been cleared of any wrongdoing following a controversial pre-trial hearing in February allowing him to be nominated for the top job again.

Gen Tito was among a number of three-star police generals short-listed by the National Police Commission for the job of national police chief.

But it seems the former Jakarta police chief, who was promoted to head Indonesia's National Counter-terrorism Agency (BNPT) in March, is now poised for the top job in the national police force.

The 51-year-old is known for dismantling the Jemaah Islamiah terrorist network, which had wreaked havoc across South-east Asia for almost a decade, and has long been earmarked to lead the national police force.

A former head of Detachment 88, Indonesia's counter-terrorism unit, the general had a year ago flagged the threat from Indonesians who had joined the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), saying they would pose a danger to the region upon their return.

If Parliament approves of his appointment, Gen Tito would be the youngest national police chief in post-independent Indonesia.