Indonesia’s 1st President Without Ties to Suharto

Indonesia’s 1st President Without Ties to Suharto
Indonesia’s 1st President Without Ties to Suharto

Joko Widodo will cap a remarkable rise from an upbringing in a riverside slum when he is sworn in as Indonesia’s president Monday, but takes power amid doubts about his ability to enact much-needed reforms.

Indonesia’s first leader without deep roots in the era of dictator Suharto, Widodo will be sworn in at a ceremony in parliament attended by foreign dignitaries, including US Secretary of State John Kerry and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

After the inauguration, Widodo, known by his nickname Jokowi, will travel through Jakarta in a horse-drawn carriage accompanied by a parade to the presidential palace, and in the evening the heavy metal fan is expected to join rock bands on stage at an outdoor concert, the AFP reported.

About 24,000 police and military personnel will be deployed to secure the day’s events, which will see Widodo, only Indonesia’s second directly elected president, taking over from former general Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono after a decade in power. “It’s quite a historic moment for Indonesia to have Jokowi as president,” said political analyst Tobias Basuki, from Jakarta think-tank the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

The 53-year-old former furniture exporter who won national attention as Jakarta governor is a “regular commoner”, Basuki said, unlike previous Indonesian leaders since Suharto’s downfall in 1998, who were political and military elites.

The Suharto era was marked by the dictator’s severe repression and colossal corruption.

But the euphoria of the inauguration is likely to be short-lived, analysts warn, as Widodo faces up to the task of leading the world’s fourth most populous country, with 250 million people spread over more than 17,000 islands, at a critical moment.

Growth in Southeast Asia’s top economy is at five-year lows, corruption remains rampant, and fears are mounting that support for the Islamic State group could spawn a new generation of radicals in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country.