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Handover of power to Indonesian president-elect Jokowi begins

Publication Date : 23-08-2014


The handover process between the government and president- elect Joko kicked in yesterday, after the final hurdle was cleared when the Constitutional Court upheld the result of the July 9 election on Thursday night.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is expected to meet Joko, commonly known as Jokowi, next week after he returns from a trip to Papua, Timor Leste and Bali, presidential aides said.

Joko said he looked forward to meeting the president, whose term ends on Oct 20, to discuss key issues and budget amendments.

"We will focus on priority programmes so we can hit the ground running once I am appointed," he said.

This will be the first time in 69 years that an outgoing Indonesian leader willingly accepts a cordial transfer of power and sits down with his successor to ensure he can start work immediately after the swearing-in.

Both sides have transition teams that will meet in the days ahead.

No previous president has given his commitment to a smooth transition, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Djoko Suyanto told a press conference

"A smooth and stable transition will be an important legacy of SBY if it is realised," University of Indonesia public administration lecturer Vishnu Juwono told The Straits Times, referring to the outgoing president by his initials as many do.

"It would help Jokowi work in speed in realising his campaign promises," he added.

Dr Yudhoyono's help and advice would be useful not only in shaping a cabinet, Vishnu said, but also in sharing data and helping the new government set up budget amendments.

Dr Yudhoyono announced the state budget for 2015 a week ago, although Joko has the option to revise it - and will likely have to do so - to accommodate greater spending for sectors such as education and to factor in cuts to fuel subsidies.

What many thought might affect the transition - continued resistance from supporters of defeated candidate Prabowo Subianto - seemed to peter out as the capital's streets returned to normal after heated demonstrations outside the court on Thursday.

Prabowo cancelled a planned press conference for a second day running, but visited a protester injured when police used tear gas and water cannons on Thursday.

Djoko apologised to those hurt by this necessary preventive action and said the absence of violence elsewhere was a sign that people respected the democratic process and valued peace.

Dr Yudhoyono and Joko also dismissed chatter that suggested tensions over the transition.

Dr Yudhoyono took to Twitter late on Thursday night to rebut those urging him and his Democratic Party not to "meddle" with Jokowi. "I had said I have a moral responsibility to assist the new president," he wrote.

"I want this transition between me and the president-elect to be successful so that he is far more prepared when appointed... But it seems there are those who don't want this to happen."

Asked about the Twitter posts yesterday, Joko told reporters he and the president met regularly, and any reports of a strain between them were false.

"In fact, he wants to help us," he said of Dr Yudhoyono.

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