5 Mar 2010

President under pressure after vote against key ministers

12:58 pm on 5 March 2010

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia is under pressure after parliament voted for a criminal probe into two ministers over a bank bailout.

Mr Yudhoyono said Vice President Boediono and Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati had records of "competence and integrity".

They spent $US720 million of state money to bail out Bank Century in 2008.

The opposition and the two main parties in the governing coalition claim that the move was an abuse of power.

Indonesia's main audit agency has alleged irregularities in the bailout. The two ministers deny any wrongdoing.

In a nationally televised address, the president said the decision to bail out Bank Century was made at the height of the financial crisis.

Mr Yudhoyono described the ministers as "two of the best children of the nation, who have good track records for personal competence, credibility and integrity".

The BBC reports Ms Indrawati and Mr Boediono are widely admired among the business and reform communities in Indonesia.

But Thursday's vote saw 325 MPs voting in favour of a criminal investigation of the two technocrats, with 212 against.

Correspondents say the vote will increase pressure on Mr Yudhoyono, who faces having to choose between keeping his main economic reformers and holding together the coalition government.

However, the parliamentary vote does not legally require any action by the president.

The government insists the bailout protected Indonesia from the global financial crisis.