Thu, 28 Aug 2003

Mega OK's swearing in Beratha

JAKARTA: Despite growing calls for President Megawati Soekarnoputri to delay the swearing-in of Bali Governor Dewa Made Beratha for a second five-year term, she has instead issued a decree to inaugurate him on Thursday.

Minister of Home Affairs Hari Sabarno confirmed on Wednesday that the decree had been signed by Megawati, who had thrown her weight behind Beratha's reelection bid.

"I can't recall the number of the decree, but as far as I am concerned, it has been issued by the President," Hari told reporters in Jakarta.

Beratha, paired with Alit Kusuma, won the Bali gubernatorial election on Aug. 6. However, a few days later, two local councillors confessed to having been bribed to vote for Beratha.

Responding to the bribery report filed by concerned Balinese, the Denpasar Administrative Court ordered that Beratha's inauguration be delayed, pending an investigation into the case. A similar call was also made by anticorruption activists.

The decree thus comes in apparent defiance of the court order.

The home minister commented that, although the public opposition against Beratha's reelection was understandable, "it has to be supported by evidence". -- Antara