Celebrating a new dawn in Indonesia

Celebrating a new dawn in Indonesia
Hot seat: Outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (left) shows the chair of the President to his successor Joko "Jokowi" Widodo (second right) in the Presidential Office in Jakarta on Sunday.

INDONESIA - In a historic street parade from Jakarta's business district to the Presidential Palace, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo will join the public in celebrating what he calls "the people's victory."

Prior to confronting a whirlwind of political and bureaucratic challenges in coming weeks as he struggles to deliver his campaign promises, the seventh president will indulge in an outdoor celebration attended by at least 20,000 people.

After his inauguration at the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) building in South Jakarta, Jokowi and First Lady Iriana will head to the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Central Jakarta to hop on a chariot used to transport Javanese royalty to their coronations.

The chariot will parade the couple along Jl. MH Thamrin and Jl. Merdeka Barat before entering the Presidential Palace, with thousands of people expected to flock to the area to see their new leader.

Along the streets, volunteers are set to prepare hundreds of food carts providing free dishes such as ketoprak (rice cakes with peanut sauce), meatball soup and batagor (fish dumplings).

However, it remains to be seen whether Jokowi will finally agree to board the chariot amid protests that such a display could be interpreted as feudalistic.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who will end his term after Jokowi is sworn in at 10 a.m., will greet Jokowi at the office of the State Secretariat, which is located near the Palace, and lead him to a military-style handover ceremony.

"The ceremony will mark a peaceful transition from one leader to the next," said Yudhoyono when accompanying Jokowi on a tour of the Palace on Sunday.

Musician Abdee Negara of Slank, the coordinator of the Syukuran Rakyat (People's Thanskgiving) festivities, said that the outdoor celebration would be packed with cultural parades, culinary treats and music performances.

"The event was initiated by Jokowi's volunteers, who have the same vision of a better Indonesia," he said on Sunday.

Many art communities and artists will also join the parade, along with Papuan dancers, lion dancers, ondel-ondel (traditional Betawi giant effigies) and even a batik carnival.

The music concert is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. and English rock band Arkarna will be among dozens of famous musicians to perform.

Abdee said, however, that the line-up was still provisional as many musicians were interested in taking part in the concert. "There will be some surprises, so you'd better watch it live," he said.

The event, funded by Jokowi supporters, will culminate at 7 p.m., when people will let fly hundreds of Chinese lanterns in National Monument (Monas) square. Jokowi is scheduled to attend both the music concert and the lantern event.

NGO Migrant Care also plans to join the event, saying that they would use the moment to raise people's awareness about the protection of migrant workers.

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