Security not celebration on the streets of Jakarta

There was pomp and ceremony aplenty but compared to the last presidential inauguration, Sunday's crowning of Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and his new Vice President Ma'ruf Amin was a much more muted affair.

There was no shortage of foreign dignitaries. Heads of state and governments from Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Vietnam, Myanmar and the Philippines were all on hand. China and Vietnam were represented by their vice presidents, while Thailand sent its deputy prime minister.

Members of the Presidential Security Force of Indonesia conduct security checks ahead of the presidential inauguration. Bloomberg

But the cultural celebrations and carnivals that marked the occasion five years ago were missing. Then, the President and Vice President went by carriage to the National Monument in the centre of Jakarta after the ceremony surrounded by a colourful riot of supporters. On Sunday, Jokowi was due to return to the State Palace and continue working. No special event was expected, except perhaps a public prayer with Ma’ruf, chairman of the Ulema Council of Indonesia.

Jokowi's re-election was widely hailed as a victory for democracy but in the months between the vote and the inauguration, the new Parliament enacted or sought to pass bills that prompted major protests from the many concerned about increased government oversight and more conservative rule in this majority Muslim nation.

The President's response to these developments, and in particular legislation that could substantially weaken the power of Indonesia's anti-corruption commission, the KPK, has disappointed many.


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