(Corrects second last paragraph to make clear Newmont, Churchill legal challenges are international arbitration cases)
By Kanupriya Kapoor
JAKARTA, Aug 4 (Reuters) - Indonesia’s president-elect Joko Widodo on Monday announced a high-powered advisory team to handle his transition to power as he prepares to take over the top job in the world’s third-largest democracy later this year.
The five-member “transition office” will lead a team of several advisers who will be responsible for drawing up a policy roadmap to fulfil major campaign promises and address pressing issues facing Southeast Asia’s biggest economy.
“This transition office is needed to prepare the implementation of our vision and programmes,” Widodo and vice president-elect Jusuf Kalla said in a statement, adding the team would prioritise universal access to healthcare and education.
Widodo, commonly known by his nickname Jokowi, beat rival Prabowo Subianto in last month’s presidential election, the closest in the history of the world’s most populous Muslim nation.
Prabowo, an ex-general, has challenged the election result in the Constitutional Court, which will start hearing the case this week and is expected to deliver a verdict by Aug. 21. Its decision will be final with no right of appeal.
Widodo has promised to form a cabinet that is dominated by technocrats in order to overhaul a sleepy bureaucracy and introduce much-needed economic reform to address big fuel subsidies, cooling investment and creaky infrastructure.
But concern persists that the former small-city mayor, who is relatively inexperienced on the national stage, may be beholden to his political party and its chief, former president Megawati Sukarnoputri, for key appointments and policy advice.
The transition team will be headed by Rini Soemarno, a close aide of Megawati. Soemarno, an influential, U.S.-educated businesswoman, served during Megawati’s presidency as trade and industry minister and is a former head of PT Astra International , Indonesia’s biggest automobile distributor.
Another member of the team of advisers, Hasto Kristiyanto, is vice secretary general of Widodo’s Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P).
Other figures include Anies Baswedan, a respected academic and education specialist, a military expert and a senior member of a coalition partner.
Widodo, a former furniture businessman, last month invited the public to participate in an online poll to choose cabinet ministers, but it was unclear how the survey would affect the final line-up.
The new cabinet will be announced after Widodo takes office on Oct 20.
The team will also draw up a list of potential cabinet ministers and review strategies to handle “major legal liabilities” facing the incoming administration like international arbitration cases involving mining giants Newmont Mining Corp and Churchill Mining, two of Widodo’s aides told Reuters.
Newmont last month filed for international arbitration over Indonesia’s mineral export tax, while Churchill has been battling the government for years over lost rights to a coal project. (Additional reporting by Johan Purnomo; Editing by Randy Fabi)