Indonesians celebrate as new president sworn in -UPDATED

Tens of thousands take to street to welcome 'Jokowi' as congratulatory banners seemed to occupy every available public space across the country’s thousands of islands

Indonesians celebrate as new president sworn in -UPDATED

World Bulletin/News Desk

Celebrations for the presidential inauguration of populist Indonesian politician Joko Widodo concluded Monday night with the release of thousands of paper lanterns as symbols of hope.

‪More than 17 thousand lanterns were simultaneously let into the air at 19.00 local time (15.00 Turkish time) across the country – entering the Indonesian Record Museum’s archives as the country’s largest lantern release ever.

Tens of thousands of Indonesians took to the streets, chanting “Jokowi” – Widodo’s nickname - and spreading the red and white national flag along the street amid groups of performing artists, many in traditional dress including Javanese ‘batik’ and Chinese costumes.

‪In the capital of Jakarta, massive quantities of free food and drink were served to huge crowds, breaking the record for "syukuran rakyat" – or the people's expression of gratitude to God.

‪Jokowi was also given an award by the Indonesian Record Museum for being the first and only president whose inauguration was celebrated by the people.

Local station Metro TV showed museum head Jaya Suprana handing the award to Jokowi, who he said was “the only President who was greeted with ‘syukuran’ from and for the people."

‪In his speech, Jokowi urged all the people to unite and work hard toward solving the problems facing the country.

He also welcomed leaders who had traveled from across the world to attend the inauguration, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

‪Jokowi is the first of Indonesia’s seven presidents to come from outside the political and military elite that has ruled since independence.

In his inaugural speech, Jokowi appealed for all sections of Indonesian society to “work hard, together, shoulder to shoulder, because this is a historic moment.”

A 53-year-old former furniture salesman, Jokowi first took office when he became mayor of Surakarta in 2005 before becoming Jakarta governor seven years later.

Jokowi, who won July’s election with 53 percent of votes, faces a series of economic dilemmas. The country’s rapid economic growth – Indonesia is Southeast Asia’s largest economy – has not been accompanied by wealth equality and the income gap between the rich and poor remains substantial.

It is likely he will have to cut fuel subsidies, an unpopular but necessary move if his administration is to relocate public funds to infrastructure projects. Previous attempts to raise fuel prices, however, have met with protests and violence.

In addition, Jokowi must tackle the current account deficit, currency depreciation and competitiveness in international trade. Bureaucratic reform and dealing with widespread corruption also top the president’s to-do list.

All this must be completed while working with a parliament controlled by the opposition Red-and-White Coalition, which holds 292 seats against the 207 seats held by parties that support Jokowi.

But for now Jokowi can bask in the celebrations. On Monday evening a huge concert has been arranged, where the crowds expect Jokowi, a guitar-playing heavy metal fan, to perform.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Ekim 2014, 23:40