Thu, 25 May 2000

Foreign affairs ministry undergoes reshuffle

JAKARTA (JP): The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is undergoing a quiet reshuffle of its top echelon with a signatory of the recent Aceh accord, Hassan Wirajuda, replacing senior diplomat Nugroho Wisnumurti as Director General for Political Affairs.

Nugroho, who once served as Indonesia's ambassador to the United Nations in New York, handed over his post on Tuesday.

Unlike other hand over proceedings, there was no official public announcement.

Several foreign ministry officials refused to go on record about the reshuffle but sources told The Jakarta Post that Nugroho was replaced because he had reached his retirement period.

Sources said Nugroho may switch places with Hassan, who is currently Indonesia's representative to the UN in Geneva. Until Hassan returns home, Nugroho's post is filled by his juniors at the directorate.

Hassan is known as a proficient diplomat. His name came to the fore during his work in Indonesia's mediation efforts to end conflicts in the southern Philippines and lately as Jakarta's representative in the signing of the Joint Understanding of Humanitarian Pause with the Free Aceh Movement (GAM).

Another change expected is the appointment of Makarim Wibisono, Indonesia's representative to the UN in New York, as Director General for Foreign Economic Relations, replacing Johan Syahperi.

Johan is slated, according to ministry sources, to become ambassador to Singapore, replacing Lt. Gen. (ret) Luhut Panjaitan, who is now Minister of Industry and Trade.

The hand over of Johan to Makarim is not expected for another two or three months.

It is not known whether a candidate has been nominated to the important post at the UN in New York once it is vacated.

Earlier this month, Witjaksana Soegarda handed over his post as Director General for ASEAN Cooperation to ad interim replacement Adian Silalahi, head of the ministry's research and development center.

Witjaksana is due to take up his post as ambassador to Denmark.

Director General for Foreign Culture, Social and Information Relations Abdul Ghani has also vacated his post due to retirement. No replacement has been named to this post which is usually reserved for military officers.

Sources said that the discreet hand overs were probably conducted because, due to administrative delays, the presidential decrees had not yet been issued.(dja)