Jakarta: Two of Indonesia's leading law enforcement officials suddenly stepped down on Thursday to soothe a tide of public rage over an escalating corruption scandal that has forced intervention by the President.
Deputy Attorney General Abdul Hakim Ritonga and Gen Susno Duadji, the head of national police investigations, resigned after being named in wiretaps this week that exposed a plot to undermine the Corruption Eradication Commission.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told reporters he asked for their resignations. But he did not call for their arrests, or condemn their actions. The men were scheduled to be questioned by a special fact-finding team with no power to initiate criminal charges.
The resignations, virtually unheard of in Javanese culture, were the culmination of a months-long battle between the top anti-graft agency and rival police and prosecutors in Indonesia, which is regularly ranked among the most corrupt countries in the world.
The case has fuelled opposition to the police and poses a serious challenge to Yudhoyono's newly installed government.
He was re-elected in July for another five-year term in the Muslim-majority nation of 235 million.
The commission has been key to Indonesia's efforts to wipe out a culture of corruption since the downfall in 1998 of late dictator Suharto. His 32-year rule was marred by human rights violations, cronyism and nepotism that held back economic development and continues to scares away potential investors.
First Published: Thursday, November 05, 2009, 15:08