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Indonesia's Yudhoyono Puts Politics over Reform

Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2009

In a speech heralding the formation of his 37-member cabinet last month, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono lauded his new team as "credible and accountable," and expressed confidence in its abilities. "You are the chosen ones . . . and I consider you to be capable of doing your duties as members of the Second United Indonesia Cabinet," Yudhoyono said.

However, many experts did not join in Yudhoyono's glowing encomium, and with good reason. After Yudhoyono's landslide re-election victory in July, many observers had expected him to seize on his overwhelming (60.9 percent) electoral mandate to surround himself with a staunchly reform-minded cabinet for his second five-year term. Instead, 20 out of the 37 cabinet-level appointments announced on Oct. 21 seem to be based on considerations of political loyalty more than experience or competence. As a result, Yudhoyono has dashed hopes that he will embark on a bold transformation of Indonesia's economy and foreign policy. ...

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