JAKARTA // Former Jakarta governor Joko Widodo was sworn in as Indonesia’s seventh president on Monday, inheriting an economy growing at its slowest pace since 2009 that he has pledged to boost.
Mr Widodo, 53, abandoned his suit jacket, red tie and presidential limousine to break with tradition and ride in the mid-day heat down Jakarta’s main thoroughfare in a horse-drawn open carriage, surrounded by a crowd of thousands, to his new home at the palace. He was earlier inaugurated at the parliament, where he faces an opposition that holds the bulk of seats and may try to obstruct his policies for South East Asia’s largest economy.
“As the captain trusted by the people, I’m inviting all people of the nation to board the ship and sail ahead to a Great Indonesia,” Mr Widodo said as he was sworn in. “We will sail confronting all storms and ocean waves with our own power.”
He’s expected to announce a new cabinet line-up as soon as Monday, including a maritime department to improve sea logistics and trade in the world’s largest archipelago at a time South East Asian countries face pressure from China over its territorial claims in the South China Sea.
Indonesia’s new leader must tackle a political elite split by a contested election outcome that overshadowed the transition from the decade-long rule of former leader Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who called on everyone to support the new president.
Investors are hoping Mr Widodo can take quick action, cutting red tape and subsidies that limit the government’s ability to build more infrastructure.