Indonesia's Anti-Graft Agency Names Key Jokowi Ally as Suspect

(Bloomberg) -- The head of an Indonesian political party backing President Joko Widodo’s bid for a second term has been named a suspect in a graft case involving job postings at the Religious Affairs Ministry.

A politician only identified by his initials RMY, and two ministry officials are suspects, said Laode Muhammad Syarif, deputy of the Corruption Eradication Commission, in a televised briefing on Saturday. The United Development Party confirmed Chairman Muhammad Romahurmuziy was named a suspect, Secretary General Asrul Sani said in a separate press conference.

The Islamic party will temporarily dismiss Romahurmuziy as chairman, Asrul said. KPK arrested Romahurmuziy in Surabaya on Friday and seized 150 million rupiah ($10,520), believed to be illegal payments for the job postings , Laode said.

KPK, as the anti-graft agency is known, searched the office of Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin for evidence on Friday, Laode said. Lukman is a member of the United Development Party, one of the 10 parties backing Widodo’s bid for re-election in the April 17 election. Lukman and a ministry spokesperson couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Indonesia's Anti-Graft Agency Names Key Jokowi Ally as Suspect

Erick Thohir, head of Widodo’s campaign team, said on Friday that Romahurmuziy’s detention had nothing to do with the presidential election and the case won’t affect the president’s re-electability.

With about four weeks to go in the campaign, polls show Widodo holding a lead of about 20 points over his rival Prabowo Subianto. Still, the gap has narrowed and Prabowo, as Subianto is popularly known, has campaigned aggressively, prompting suggestions he could spring a “Mahathir-like” upset, a nod to Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s unlikely victory last year.

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