Prabowo to attend Jokowi's inauguration

Prabowo to attend Jokowi's inauguration
President-elect Joko Widodo (center) and vice-president-elect Jusuf Kalla (second left) accompanied by People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) Speaker Zulkifli Hasan (second right), MPR deputy chairman Oesman Sapta (left) and transition team chief Rini Soemarno (right), take part in preparations at the House of Representatives on Oct. 18, in the run up to their inauguration on Monday.

Following his first meeting in four months with president-elect Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, Gerindra Party chairman Prabowo Subianto - the losing candidate in the July 9 presidential election - has taken another step toward reconciliation by confirming his attendance at Jokowi's inauguration.

People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) speaker Zulkifli Hasan of the National Mandate Party, said on Saturday that all political party leaders, including Prabowo, had confirmed they would attend the inauguration on Monday at the MPR complex in Senayan, Central Jakarta.

"Pak Prabowo, although he has business to attend overseas, is likely to return late on Sunday so he will be able to come on Monday," he said after an inauguration rehearsal.

Zulkifli said that he had contacted all party leaders to confirm their attendance.

Apart from party leaders, Zulkifli said that other political figures would also attend the event.

"Amien [Rais] will be there, God willing. All of our political figures will be there to ensure the success of the event," he said, referring to a former speaker of the MPR and one of Jokowi's staunchest critics.

Prabowo himself has been non-committal as to whether he would attend. The Gerindra chairman claimed that he had not received an invitation, which was supposed to have been handed to him at 3 p.m. on Friday by Zulkifli.

"As a statesman and a citizen of this nation, if I am invited to the ceremony then I will attend. However, I have said to Pak Jokowi that I may not be able to attend due to personal family matters overseas that I must attend to," he said, after a meeting with Jokowi at his father's house on Friday.

However, Prabowo promised that if he could get back from overseas by Sunday night, he would go to the inauguration.

Prabowo did not disclose the purpose of his trip or its destination.

Separately, Gerindra secretary-general Ahmad Muzani said that Prabowo had no obligation to attend the ceremony, noting that he did not attend the inauguration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in 2009, when Prabowo was the running mate of Yudhoyono's rival, Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri.

Political researcher Hanta Yuda of the Pol-Tracking Institute said that Prabowo's presence at the ceremony could bode well for the country's democracy.

"If he attends the ceremony, then at least he will set a good example and be an improvement over 2004 and 2009, when he did not show up," he told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

Regardless of whether Prabowo would attend or not, Hanta said that Friday's meeting was a positive sign of reconciliation.

"Even before Jokowi is sworn in, they have agreed to meet. Compare that with Yudhoyono and Megawati, who have not been able to have a single meeting even as Yudhoyono wraps up his term," he said.

Hanta added that Prabowo's presence did not mean that Prabowo's Red-and-White Coalition would drop its opposition to Jokowi's administration. "It is too early to link Prabowo's attendance with the easing of political tension at the House [of Representatives]," he said.

The MPR on Saturday staged its final rehearsal for the swearing-in. Several foreign leaders, including Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, US Secretary of State John Kerry and US Republican senator and former presidential candidate John McCain, are expected to attend the ceremony.

National Police chief Gen. Sutarman has said that more than 24,000 police will be deployed to secure the event, most of whom will be concentrated on the MPR complex and its surroundings.

The MPR has earmarked Rp 1 billion (US$105, 363) for the ceremony, which Zulkifli said was much less than for the inauguration of regional heads.

After the inauguration, volunteers for Jokowi will throw a street party to celebrate.

Jokowi and vice president-elect Jusuf Kalla are expected to join a a "people's parade", riding a horse-drawn carriage from Semanggi to the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle.

The Jakarta Police are expected to close off several of the city's main thoroughfares for the parade and divert traffic from affected areas.

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