Mon, 22 Mar 1999

D. Dunidja to be named West Sumatra caretaker

BANDUNG (JP): Ministry of Home Affairs Director General of Sociopolitical Affairs D. Dunidja will be appointed on Monday as caretaker of the West Sumatra administration, a ministry official said on Saturday.

Ministry spokesman Herman Ibrahim said here that Dunidja would, among other responsibilities, oversee elections for a new governor to replace Muchlis Ibrahim who resigned on Tuesday.

President B.J. Habibie accepted Muchlis' resignation on Wednesday.

"If residents reject the appointment of a caretaker, then this is the right time to express it. One of the clauses of (Dunidja's) appointment says the caretaker will be barred from running for the gubernatorial job," Herman said.

As a rule, the caretaker is the director general of administration and provincial autonomy. However the incumbent, Ryaas Rasid, said he was too busy monitoring preparations for the June polls and deliberating bills on regional autonomy and fiscal balance.

Muchlis announced his resignation after less than one year in office, in protest over the government's choice of Zainal Bakar as deputy governor. Muchlis said he had never recommended the selection of Zainal, favoring candidate Nurmawan.

Rules for the appointment of deputy governors cite that the candidate is put forward by the provincial council and recommended to the governor before approval from central government is acquired.

Muchlis replaced Hasan Basri Durin who was elected State Minister of Land Affairs in Habibie's reform Cabinet.

Herman denied Zainal's appointment bypassed Muchlis' prerogative to recommend his favored candidates to Jakarta.

"The government rejected Muchlis' nomination of Nurmawan, following a protest by the local legislature who claimed the governor unilaterally made the decision," Herman said.

According to Herman, Muchlis put forward Zainal and Ali Amran, in addition to Nurmawan, to Minister of Home Affairs Syarwan Hamid, who later selected Zainal after consulting local representatives.

"That's how the procedure must work," Herman said, adding that it was a ministerial prerogative to make the final choice in the matter.

Herman said Muchlis' claim that he would have been unable to cooperate with Zainal was groundless.

"Zainal has ample experience as a regent and provincial secretary to his credit. Muchlis rejected Zainal apparently because of a personal dislike." (byg/43)