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Indonesian court rules in favour of police chief nominee

[JAKARTA] An Indonesian court ruled that President Joko Widodo's nominee for police chief should no longer be considered a graft suspect, removing any legal impediment to him taking the job.

Joko's candidate, three star general Budi Gunawan, had filed a pre-trial motion against an investigation by the anti- corruption agency, known as the KPK.

Monday's court outcome clears the way for Joko, also known as Jokowi, to inaugurate Gunawan - who's been endorsed for the role by both parliament and Jokowi's party - even as he risks a public backlash if he proceeds. The furore around who should be police chief shows the challenges Jokowi faces in meeting campaign pledges of fighting corruption and governing free of party politics.

"This decision has put Jokowi in an even more uncomfortable spot," said Emrus Sihombing, a political communications professor at Universitas Pelita Harapan near Jakarta. "From a legal point of view, there is no reason why BG can't be inaugurated," he said, referring to Gunawan by his initials.

Jokowi put Gunawan's appointment on hold on Jan. 16 after he was named a suspect by the KPK. Jokowi said in an interview on Feb. 2 that he would uphold the rule of law with regard to the case.

The Jakarta Composite Index closed 0.9 per cent lower on concerns the court verdict heralded heightened political risk in the country.