SBY to welcome Jokowi at State Palace

SBY to welcome Jokowi at State Palace
Police officers in a golf cart pass mobile barricade vehicles as they patrol the legislative complex in Jakarta on Thursday. The National Police and the Indonesian Military (TNI) will deploy 24,000 personnel to secure next Monday’s presidential inauguration in the House of Representatives.

In an effort to highlight the peaceful transfer of power, outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono plans to hold a welcoming ceremony for president-elect Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and vice president-elect Jusuf Kalla at the State Palace after the pair's inauguration ceremony on Oct. 20.

Released details of the plan reveal that after Jokowi's swearing-in ceremony at the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) compound in Senayan, Central Jakarta, the outgoing President will welcome Jokowi when the country's seventh president enters the State Palace for the first time, the first such ceremony in the history of the country.

Yudhoyono and his predecessor Megawati Soekarnoputri had a strained relationship following the former's win in the 2004 presidential election. She quietly left the State Palace after her term expired. Megawati's predecessor Abdurrahman "Gus Dur" Wahid was ousted from power after only two years in office while transitional president Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie left office with little fanfare following the MPR's decision to reject his accountability report.

The country's long-serving authoritarian president Soeharto came to power following an attempted coup that led to the demise of the country's first president Soekarno.

During Yudhoyono's last plenary Cabinet meeting on Thursday, in which the President bid farewell to his ministers and top officials, he said there would also be a military parade to welcome Jokowi at the Palace.

Yudhoyono claimed he wanted to instigate a new national tradition.

"There will be a parade and later we will enter Merdeka Palace where I will introduce him to the Palace staff. Then I will leave the Palace and receive the last salute from the security detail and return to my [private] residence in Cikeas [in West Java]," Yudhoyono said. The President also called on all his Cabinet members to attend the ceremony.

Jokowi would also receive his first salute from the presidential security detail, Yudhoyono added.

Presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha confirmed Yudhoyono's plan.

He said that there were no legal grounds for the ceremony and that it was planned as a demonstration of the President's goodwill.

"This is new and expected to become a political tradition; of course, therefore, we can't refer to any fixed protocol," he said. "We're still discussing this plan with Jokowi's team."

Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto earlier said the president-elect's team, including its senior advisor Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, had agreed to the plan.

Djoko, however, was keen to impress that the public should not misinterpret it as a "handover" of power from the outgoing President to his successor. "It's only a ceremony to welcome the new president," he said.

A number of world leaders have confirmed their attendance at the inauguration ceremony, including Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, US Secretary of State John Kerry, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

However, according to Djoko, none of the country's former presidents would be invited to the welcoming ceremony.

Meanwhile, the Jokowi-Kalla team plans to hold what it calls a "people's parade" in which the pair will first drive to the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in a presidential limousine from the MPR compound before transferring to a horse-drawn carriage to travel from the traffic circle to the palace.

In the afternoon, a "people's party" will be staged at National Monument Park in front of Merdeka Palace, during which Jokowi is expected to address the nation with his first presidential speech at around 5 p.m.

"He will ask everyone to say a prayer together for a better Indonesia in the future and to thank God," said television personality Olga Lidya from the Jokowi-Kalla volunteer team.

Olga came to the State Palace on Thursday to meet with deputy of the State Secretariat for palace management and administration Ottyawati Adji to discuss the plan.

Olga further revealed that there would be a potluck of tumpeng (a cone-shaped rice dish) during the public celebrations, which would wrap up at 10 p.m.

Constitutional law expert Saldi Isra said that Yudhoyono should not hold the welcoming ceremony at the palace because "as soon as Jokowi is officially sworn in, the palace is under his care."

The National Police and Indonesian Military (TNI) are expected to deploy more than 24,000 personnel to guard Jokowi's inauguration ceremony.

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