Jokowi sworn in again


  • Indonesia
  • Monday, 21 Oct 2019

Big support: Officials and staff at the presidential palace waving Indonesian flags and holding up banners as Jokowi’s motorcade leaves the palace in Jakarta. — AFP

JAKARTA: Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who rose from poverty and pledged to champion democracy, fight entrenched corruption and modernise the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, was sworn in for his second and final five-year term with a pledge to take bolder actions.

Army troops and police, along with armoured vehicles, firetrucks and ambulances, were deployed across the vast capital, Jakarta, and major roads were closed in a departure from the more relaxed atmosphere of the popular Jokowi’s 2014 inauguration.

An Oct 10 knife attack by a militant couple that wounded the country’s security minister set off a security crackdown.

Known for his down-to-earth style, Jokowi, 58, opted for an austere ceremony at the heavily guarded Parliament without the festive parade that transported him after his inauguration in 2014 on a horse-drawn carriage in Jakarta, where he was then cheered on by thousands of waving supporters.On his way to the ceremony yesterday, Jokowi got out of his convoy with some of his security escorts and shook the hands of supporters, who yelled his name, waved Indonesia’s red-and-white flag and called him bapak or father.

“This is the second time ... most importantly, we must work together immediately to bring Indonesia to prosperity,” Jokowi told reporters before leaving for Parliament, adding that he had completed picking all members of his Cabinet.

Western and Asian leaders and special envoys flew in for the event, including Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan.

President Donald Trump sent Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao for the ceremony, South-East Asia’s largest economy and a member of the G-20 bloc of nations.Indonesia is a bastion of democracy in South-East Asia, a diverse and economically bustling region of authoritarian regimes, police states and nascent democracies.

After decades of dictatorship under President Suharto, the country was convulsed by political, ethnic and religious unrest in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Since then, it has consolidated its democratic transition. While most of the country remains poor and inequality is rising, it is home to a rapidly expanding middle class.

Jokowi is the son of a furniture maker who grew up with his family in a rented bamboo shack on the banks of a flood-prone river in Solo city on Java island.

He is the first Indonesian president from outside the country’s super rich, and often corrupt, political, business and military elite.

Jokowi presents himself as a man of the people, often emphasising his humble roots.

His popular appeal, including his pioneering use of social media, helped him win elections for mayor of Solo, governor of Jakarta and twice for president over the past 14 years.

In a reflection of his popularity as he begins his second term, he has nearly 26 million followers on Instagram and more than 12 million on Twitter.

He has been likened to Barack Obama, but since taking office he has been perceived as unwilling to press for accountability that threatens powerful institutions such as the military.

Instead he has emphasised nationalism while also fending off attacks that he is not devout enough as a Muslim.

Jokowi was sworn in with his vice-president, Ma’ruf Amin, one of the most important religious figures in Indonesia, who he chose as his running mate to shore up his support among pious Muslims.

Amin was chairman of Majelis Ulama Indonesia, the country’s council of Islamic leaders, and supreme leader of Nahdlatul Ulama, the world’s largest Muslim organisation.But Amin, 76, has been criticised for being a vocal supporter and drafter of fatwas against religious minorities and LGBT people.

Human Rights Watch says the fatwas, or edicts, have legitimised increasingly hateful rhetoric by government officials against LGBT people, and in some cases fuelled deadly violence by militants against religious minorities.

Jokowi has been widely praised for his efforts to improve Indonesia’s inadequate infrastructure and reduce poverty, which afflicts close to one-10th of the sprawling country’s 270 million people.

He inaugurated the nation’s first subway system, which was financed by Japan, in chronically congested Jakarta in March after years of delay under past leaders.

Pressing on is the biggest challenge, however, in his final years in office given the global economic slowdown, major trade conflicts, falling exports and other hurdles that impede funding. — AP

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