JAKARTA – Indonesian President Joko Widodo has appointed seasoned politician Zulkifli Hasan as trade minister, and former armed forces commander Hadi Tjahjanto as his new minister for agrarian affairs and spatial planning.
Mr Zulkifli, 59, who only recently joined the ruling coalition, is the chairman of the Islamic-leaning National Mandate Party, or PAN. He is currently deputy speaker of the People’s Representative Assembly (MPR).
He served as forestry minister from 2009 to 2014 under former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. PAN, which was in the opposition, jumped over to the ruling coalition in late August.
Mr Widodo had been unhappy with the current trade minister, Mr Muhammad Lutfi, for not being able to curb rising cooking oil prices at home.
An effort to reduce cooking oil prices in early February when retail prices were capped prompted traders to hoard their stocks, leading to shortages, spawning criticism against Mr Widodo’s administration.
Meanwhile, Mr Hadi, 58, will take over from Mr Sofyan Djalil as the minister of agrarian affairs and spatial planning.
Mr Hadi retired in November last year as the air chief marshal and has continued to give advice on various issues to the government.
Earlier this year, he was tasked to oversee the Mandalika international MotoGP street circuit race in Indonesia’s Lombok island.
Mr Widodo has also appointed three vice-ministers, including Mr Raja Juli Antoni of the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI). In 2017, the party had backed Chinese-Christian Basuki Tjahaja Purnama’s unsuccessful bid to seek re-election as Jakarta’s governor.
Mr Antoni has been appointed the vice-minister for agrarian and spatial planning.
All the new appointments take effect immediately.