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JAKARTA: Indonesia’s sports minister stepped down yesterday after being named a suspect in a multi-million-dollar corruption case, in the latest scandal to hit the president’s ruling party ahead of 2014 elections.
Andi Mallarangeng is the first minister to resign over graft allegations since the country’s powerful Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) began operating in 2003 with a mandate to crack down on rampant graft.
The resignation of Mallarangeng, who used to be the presidential spokesman, is an embarrassment for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who won a landslide victory for a second term in 2009 on a corruption-fighting platform.
While the country has shown an improvement in tackling corruption over the past decade, that battle has dwindled in recent years.
This week it slid to 118th of 176 countries ranked by Transparency International’s (TI) annual index, which rates the least to the most corrupt states.
The KPK announced late Thursday that Mallarangeng was a suspect in connection with the construction of a sports centre worth 2.5trn rupiah ($261m).
“In relation to the KPK’s announcement... I met with the president and handed him my resignation letter as sports minister, effective today,” Mallarangeng told reporters, while maintaining his innocence.
“I don’t want to become a burden for the president and the cabinet. The wheels of the government must keep turning, and my personal legal matters are my responsibility,” Mallarangeng said.