Indonesia cabinet reshuffle: Widodo brings in ex-general and reformist World Bank economist

The appointment of controversial ex-general Wiranto raises eyebrows.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo made extensive changes to his cabinet on Wednesday, replacing nine ministers with a combination of veteran policymakers and first-time-office holders.

Two of the most prominent changes were in the finance ministry and the ministry for political, legal and security affairs.

Widodo pleased the market reform advocates by appointing Dr. Mulyani Indrawati, the World Bank's managing director, as the new finance minister. But at the same time his decision naming controversial ex-general Wiranto as the security chief raised some eyebrows.

Luhut Pandjaitan, the former Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, will take over as the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and work towards fulfilling Widodo's master plan of turning Indonesia into a maritime superpower.

"I am aware that the challenge keeps changing and it needs quick action from us," Widodo told Reuters in response to the surprising appointments of Indrawati and Wiranto.

The President said the economic imperatives were the driving force for the reshuffle and the cabinet need to work "more quickly, more effectively" for strong economic growth and resolve income inequality.

He also added that they had to show fast results in order to deal with poverty in the face of rising global economic weakness.

"We must create more jobs in order to increase wealth," he said.

Widodo made a total of 13 changes to his Cabinet which is more than twice the previous changes in August 2015.

Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan, Energy Minister Sudirman Said and Education and Culture Minister Anies Baswedan were sacked from the cabinet.

Two other ministers were moved from key ministries to less prominent posts. Trade Minister Thomas Lembong is now head of the Investment Coordinating Agency, while Finance Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro is the chief of the National Development Planning Agency.

Several fresh faces took charge of critical ministries such as Dr. Archandra Tahar (Energy), Budi Karya Sumadi (Transportation), Dr. Enggartiasto Lukita (Trade) and Airlangga Hartarto (Industry).

Airlangga is a member of Golkar, which is the second-largest political party in Indonesia. His appointment was an expected move as Widodo seeks to build up support from other parties which were interested to join the association.