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Jokowi unveils Cabinet; next move a delicate balancing act

The new portfolios include, for the first time, a coordinating ministry of maritime affairs

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Mr Joko announcing his Cabinet in Jakarta on Sunday. On his right is First Lady Iriana and on his left are Vice-President Jusuf Kalla and his wife Mufidah.

Jakarta

ALMOST a week after hundreds of thousands lined the streets of Jakarta to cheer him on his inauguration day, Indonesia's newly minted president, Joko Widodo, also known as Jokowi, has finally unveiled his Cabinet.

The 34-member team will be inaugurated on Monday and the new portfolios include, for the first time, a coordinating ministry of maritime affairs tackling one of the country's most severe bottlenecks.

The announcement comes after nearly a week of false starts as intended names ran afoul of anti-corruption watchdogs, Parliament and party luminaries, underlining the delicate balancing act that will likely characterise the start of Mr Joko's presidency.

"Jokowi is under a lot of pressure from his party and elsewhere," said Philips Vermonte, head of the department of politics and international relations at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

"Naming a Cabinet is a real chance to show he is a break from the past. He has to show that he is ready to work as hard as he can for the people or there will be disappointment," Mr Vermonte said ahead of the announcement.

The addition of a coordinating ministry of maritime affairs will help address the country's woeful ports. A decade of rapid economic growth and a burgeoning consumer class have triggered an explosion in cargo traffic without little accompanying infrastructure investment.

The backlog means that trucks ferrying containers from Jakarta's main industrial area to the port of Tanjung Priok can manage 1.1 trips a day compared with about three five years ago, according to the Indonesian Logistics Association.

The list of names is also notable for who is absent.

In the run-up to Sunday's announcement, media reports had suggested Mr Joko will name ex-general Wiranto, the former commander of the Indonesian military, as coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs. Instead, that job has gone to Tedjo Edy Purjianto, the former chief of the navy.

As head of the military in 1999, Mr Wiranto is under scrutiny for potential links to atrocities in East Timor from militias that enjoyed Indonesian army backing. His possible nomination earned a rare public rebuke from Mr Joko's own coterie of volunteers, who played a big role in delivering victory at July's election.

Still, naming ministers such as Rini Soemarno, who headed the Jokowi transition team, as minister for state-owned enterprises may prompt some to question the president's reform credentials. She has been under repeated questioning from the graft watchdog, the Anti-Corruption Commission (KPK), for her role in the nearly US$600 million Bank Century bailout in 2008.

Also making the cut are Anies Basweden, president of Paramadina University, as minister for education, and Ignatius Jonan, chief executive of state-owned rail operator PT Kerata Api, as transport minister.

The KPK and the anti money-laundering agency, the Indonesian Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, last week warned Mr Joko of nearly a third of the names from his 43-person shortlist because of income statement irregularities.