Update at 9:50 p.m. on Jan. 8, 2013
Banten Governor Ratu Atut Chosiyah told her sister, Ratu Tatu Chasanah, that she would accept a dismissal from her position as provincial governor.
“Bu Atut said ‘go ahead, leave it to the Regional Legislative Council to work out the regulation,’” Tatu said at the offices of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) on Wednesday.
But she insisted that the dismissal of her sister had to be conducted in accordance with the law.
“There’s a law in place regulating when officials should be suspended,” Tatu said.
The KPK has charged Ratu Atut in a bribery case surrounding an election dispute in the province’s district of Lebak.
The KPK also implicated the former Constitutional Court chief justice, Akil Mochtar, in the Lebak district bribery case.
On Tuesday, the Banten Legislative Council decided that Atut should remain the provincial governor despite her detention by the KPK.
Council leaders, namely speaker Aeng Haerudin and his four deputies, held a private meeting in Serang, Banten, on Tuesday. They decided Atut should remain the governor as she has only been named a suspect by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), and her case had not yet been brought to court.
“Council leaders have agreed that Ratu Atut should remain the Banten governor, although protests have been staged in a number of places demanding that she steps down,” Aeng told news portal liputan6.com.
Protesters have called on the Banten legislature to exercise its interpellation right, in terms of which it would run a parliamentary procedure demanding that Atut explains her actions.
Their hope is that an interpellation would feed into an impeachment.
“If the government still runs well, no interpellation right should be exercised,” Aeng said.
He added that Atut could still perform administrative duties, such as signing important documents, from behind bars at the KPK’s detention facility in Pondok Bambu in East Jakarta.
Aeng also said the Banten legislature agreed that Rano Karno should, in the meantime, remain Atut’s deputy, and that he should take over some of the duties Atut cannot perform while in detention.
On Tuesday, following a direct order from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Rano inaugurated Arief Rachadiono Wismansyah, the new mayor of Tangerang, and his deputy Sachrudin.
The inauguration ceremony had been delayed five times since November because Atut repeatedly canceled the ceremonies. Last week’s inauguration was called of at the last moment when Atut said she was feeling under the weather.
“I cried while installing the mayor and deputy mayor because the city of Tangerang now has a leader after [the inauguration] was delayed for so long,” Rano told liputan6.com.
Home Affairs Minister Gamawan Fauzi said last week that Atut could not yet be suspended as governor because she had only been named a suspect in the two corruption charges.
Under Indonesian law, state officials can only be suspended from their positions after they have become defendants in a criminal case. Furthermore, they can only be dismissed from their jobs once they’ve been convicted.
The KPK is considering whether to move Atut from the Pondok Bambu jail to the Guntur penitentiary, a commissioner said on Monday.
KPK deputy chairman Bambang Wijoyanto said the move would depend on the completion of a renovation to the detention facility in Guntur to increase its holding capacity.
“If the Guntur jail is completed, it would be easier to manage,” Bambang said.
He added that the shift had yet to be initiated.
Bambang also mentioned that the transfer was expected to happen over the next few weeks.
She will be detained at the Pondok Bambu jail for the first 20 days and may be transferred later.
The original version of this story said Ratu Atut Chosiyah had been charged with corruption in connection with the Lebak district election and the procurement of medical equipment in Banten. Ratu Atut was only charged in relation to the election dispute. The Jakarta Globe regrets the error.