Thu, 02 Oct 2003

Sultan seeks term extension

YOGYAKARTA: Sultan Hamengkubuwono X, who is also a presidential hopeful from the Golkar Party, is seeking an extension on his five-year term in the governor's seat as the central government will likely postpone his swearing-in due to next year's elections.

A request for the extension will be filed on Thursday with Minister of Home Affairs Hari Sabarno, secretary of the Yogyakarta administration Bambang Suasanto Priyohadi said on Wednesday.

The sultan's term in office, as well as that of his deputy Paku Alam IX, ends on Oct. 3. Last month, they were appointed by the Yogyakarta legislative council for another five-year term.

However, it is likely that the home minister will not swear them in by Saturday, meaning that after Oct. 3, the sultan will serve as the acting governor.

Bambang said the situation would create problems for the province as the sultan would not be authorized to approve the disbursement of funds from the budget until he is sworn in.

On average, the governor endorses the disbursement of up to Rp 1 billion (US$117,647) from the province's budget per day, he said.

"If the sultan becomes the acting governor and has no authority to sign documents, who will have the right to disburse funds?" Bambang asked.

He said that as acting governor, the sultan would also not be empowered to issue any government regulations. "That's why we are sending a request to the minister of home affairs tomorrow (Thursday) to extend the governor's and his deputy's term." --JP