Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Decree Gives Indonesia's Vice President More Clout

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Decree Gives Indonesia's Vice President More Clout

Article excerpt

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Long sidelined from the inner workings of government, Indonesia's popular but untested vice president was handed a new role yesterday in policy and decision- making.

Beleaguered President Abdurrahman Wahid issued a decree giving his deputy, Megawati Sukarnoputri, a direct say in the formulation of state strategies and management of day-to-day issues.

The move is central to Wahid's campaign to get his troubled 10-month-old administration back on track and to stem growing criticism of his often erratic presidential style.

Relations between the two have been strained by the failure of their fractious coalition to fix a deep economic crisis or to end sectarian and separatist violence in several outlying provinces.

Their differences came to a head this week when her aides accused Wahid of stacking a new Cabinet with his supporters while excluding her senior backers from key positions.

Wahid has defended his choice of ministers, saying they would be more professional than an unwieldy 35-member Cabinet he appoint- ed last October when he became Indonesia's first democratic leader in four decades.

Yesterday's decree says Megawati will chair weekly meetings of the new 26-member Cabinet appointed Wednesday, review ministers' performances and set Cabinet agendas. …

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