posted at 21:50
Author Name: Sam Reeves
Indonesia inaugurates outsider Widodo as president
Widodo, known by his nickname Jokowi, worked his way up through local politics before securing the presidency in July following a close race against controversial ex-general Prabowo Subianto. Fears are growing that a hostile parliament dominated by parties that opposed Widodo at the election, and the new leader's status as a novice in national politics, could make it impossible for him to push through reforms aimed at reviving Southeast Asia's top economy and helping society's poorest. At a ceremony in parliament, Widodo, wearing a black suit and traditional cap, stood for the national anthem alongside outgoing president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, before taking the oath. Crowds had gathered across Jakarta to celebrate the inauguration of Widodo, a 53-year-old former furniture exporter who won legions of fans with his man of the people image during his time as Jakarta governor. The euphoria of the inauguration is likely to be short-lived, analysts warn, as Widodo faces up to the task of leading the world's fourth most populous country, with 250 million people spread over more than 17,000 islands, at a critical moment. Widodo has set out an ambitious reform agenda to tackle the country's many problems, but there is concern the notoriously fractious parliament could prove a hindrance. In recent weeks, Prabowo's supporters in parliament had used their majority to abolish the direct election of local leaders, a move opposed by Widodo, and win key posts in the legislature. Widodo's first test will be to reduce the huge fuel subsidies that eat up about a fifth of the budget, a move economists say is urgently needed but which risks sparking large street protests.

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