World’s third-largest democracy, Indonesia got its seventh president as Joko Widodo, a former furniture salesman. Widodo’s victory over a former general in July’s election by a narrow margin marked the first time in Indonesia democracy’s history that a president was elected not from the established military but from outside.
The swearing-in ceremony was attended by powerful and influential dignitaries like John Kerry of U.S and Tony Abbott, Australia PM. Soon after the swearing-in ceremony, Widodo’s government spelt out its scheme of things to counter the challenges that stare at the new government. Amid economic problems and supporter’s high hopes, the president will find it difficult to get things done in a hostile parliament, believe rivals.
“I’m not scared of parliament. That’s politics. It can change every second, minute and hour”, told the 53-year-old president to reporters.
Jokowi’s campaign pledges to boost infrastructure and sliding economy that is currently under stress as prices for exports such as palm oil, coal and gas continue to fall in international markets while a growing middle class spurs demand for imported goods.
Within the first 2 weeks, the government planned to order the steepest fuel price increase in nine years. The savings from the amount, government intends to spend on infrastructure, education, and healthcare. Earlier too, the price rise in fuel prices had sparked protests in Indonesia and contributed to the downfall of long-serving autocrat and then president Suharto in 1998.
Growing and never-ending corruption remains another pressing problem. Outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono came under heavy criticism in his last term for not taking adequate steps to contain corruption.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry who arrived in Indonesia for Joko Widodo’s presidential inauguration on Monday, sought Southeast Asian leaders support in the U.S.-led effort against Islamic State in the Middle East (Syria and Iraq).