Jokowi denies rift with Kalla

Amicable: Joko in discussion with Kalla in Jakarta. - AFP

JAKARTA: President-elect Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has denied talk that a rift has occurred between him and his deputy Jusuf Kalla over the structure of the incoming Cabinet.

“How is that possible? We meet and talk with each other every day. We are both on good terms,” Joko, who is slated to be sworn in as the country’s seventh president on Oct. 20, said in Jakarta.

Joko said that as of Sunday he had not engaged in talks with either Kalla or members of his coalition on who would fill positions in his future administration, saying that such discussions would only take place after he was sworn in as president on Oct. 20.

“There has been no talk yet either with Pak JK (Kalla) or coalition members. How the administration will look has also yet to be defined, whether it will include 30, 34 or just 20 ministries,” said Jokowi.

Although he denied he had a falling out with Kalla, Jokowi emphasised he had the prerogative to decide who would be in his Cabinet.

In early August Jokowi launched a transition team, the first in Indonesian history, to prepare for his future administration. It will also help manage the transfer of power from outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to Jokowi.

The team, which is headed by former president director of PT Astra International and minister of trade Rini Mariani Soemarno, consists of a combination of experts and politicians tasked with devising programmes to be implemented by Joko and Kalla during their five-year term in office.

Earlier, Kalla expressed his disagreement over the transition team’s plan to merge several ministries into one, adding that he also disapproved of the idea that ministers in the next administration must quit their positions in their political parties, a proposal made by Jokowi.

Kalla said it would take time to merge ministries and he and Joko only had a limited amount of time to realise their campaign promises.

“If any change is needed, they should be minor changes. If major changes take place then many things have to be restructured, such as who are going to be the directorate generals and where the new offices will be located and other things,” Kalla said in Jakarta on Thursday. — Jakarta Post / Asia News Network

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