Indonesia’s Jokowi kicks off fresh term after wave of crises
Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo will kick off a fresh term Sunday, following a wave of crises and with Jakarta under heavy security days after Islamist militants tried to assassinate his top security minister.
More than 30,000 security personnel were deployed in the capital amid fears of another attack while Widodo, 58, and vice-president Ma’ruf Amin, 76, are inaugurated at a ceremony slated to draw several foreign leaders, including Malaysia’s Mahathir Mohamad and Australia’s Scott Morrison.
Widodo, known as Jokowi — a popular, heavy-metal-music loving former businessman from outside the political and military elite — was hailed as Indonesia’s answer to Barack Obama when he was first elected in 2014 to lead the world’s third-biggest democracy.
But Jokowi’s leadership is under mounting criticism after he faced a string of challenges, from nationwide anti-government demonstrations and smog-belching forest fires that sparked diplomatic tensions with Indonesia’s neighbours, to deadly unrest in Papua and an economic slowdown.
Recent protests across the archipelago of 260 million were among the biggest student rallies since mass demonstrations toppled the Suharto dictatorship in 1998.
The headwinds threaten to cast a shadow over Jokowi’s second and final term, a stark reversal of fortune just months after he scored a thumping re-election victory against a former military general.
Sunday’s inauguration also comes a little over a week after his chief security minister was stabbed in an attack by two members of a local extremist group allied to the Islamic State group, who were arrested at the scene.
Dozens of suspected militants have since been detained in a nationwide dragnet following the assassination attempt on Wiranto, a former general who goes by one name. The 72-year-old is recovering in hospital.
Authorities have banned mass demonstrations for fear the inauguration might be used as cover for another attack as militancy continues to plague the world’s biggest Muslim majority nation.
Jokowi’s new term also comes against the backdrop of fears that Indonesia’s two-decades of democratic reforms are being eroded.
His adminstration appeared caught off guard when thousands of students hit the streets in protests last month against a raft of divisive reforms, including banning pre-marital sex and weakening the anti-graft agency. Three students died in the unrest.