Jakarta. The National Police issued the green light on Wednesday for supporters of President-elect Joko Widodo to stage an elaborate parade shortly after he is inaugurated next week.
“We have agreed … we will allow it,” National Police chief Gen. Sutarman said.
Joko’s supporters earlier requested permission to stage the so-called “people’s celebration” parading the incoming president from the People’s Representatives Assembly (MPR) building in Senayan, South Jakarta to the State Palace on Jl. Merdeka Utara, Central Jakarta some nine kilometers away.
But Sutarman said police will only allow the parade to be held along Jl. Thamrin from the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle to the State Palace, a distance of 2.5 kilometer.
Police earlier rejected the idea fearing the president-elect’s safety as well as to avoid clashes between Joko’s supporters and opponents as Indonesia’s political conditions heated recently.
“We will secure it,” Sutarman said.
The police chief, however, did not divulge further security details leaving questions whether the change will affect the number of security officers guarding the inauguration, whether the surrounding office buildings and shopping malls along Jl. Thamrin will be cleared and what kind of security measures will be involved.
Sutarman said on Sunday that a total of 22,000 personnel were being prepared for the event but that they would not carry live ammunition.
The officers will also be stationed at strategic infrastructure sites such as government buildings, public facilities and business areas, but this will likely change due to the new plan.
It is also not clear whether Joko, 53, and his 72-year-old vice president Jusuf Kalla will walk all the way to the State Palace, which greatly influenced the security details of the parade. “Maybe they will go on horseback,” Sutarman said.
Budi Arie Setiadi, chairman of Projo, one of the volunteer groups supporting Joko’s presidential campaign in July, said a number of pro-Joko organizations would co-organize the parade.
“The presidential motorcade heading to the State Palace will be paraded by marching bands,” he said adding that a carnival-style parade and a group of volunteer street cleaners will also join the celebration.
The organizers also planned for a free music concert at the National Monument Complex, adjacent to the State Palace. Joko, he said, will give a speech at the concert. He will also carve and hand out a gigantic tumpeng, a traditional conical shape yellow rice offering.
“There will also be prayers and the release of 7,000 colorful lanterns at the palace as well as several cities,” he said.
At night, Joko, a heavy metal fan, will also jam with a number of metal bands.
Eva Kusuma Sundari, a politician from Joko’s Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) says the parade is a way to accommodate people’s jubilation in seeing Joko — a down-to-earth Jakarta governor known for his impromptu visits to remote and underdeveloped neighborhoods — become the nation’s top leader.
The parade is also a warning, Eva continued, for Joko’s opponents who have managed to control the House of Representatives and the MPR.
“They can criticize [Joko] in the legislature. But they can’t take away people’s support and mandate [for Joko],” she said.
According to Eva, several Indonesians living overseas also planned a similar celebration to welcome Joko as president.
“The latest [to confirm] are [Indonesians living in] Madrid. They said they will welcome Jokowi by releasing balloons,” she said, referring to the president-elect by his popular nickname.
In Jakarta, Eva said the parade participants and other supporters will dress in white, aiming to set some kind of national record for the most people dressed in white in a single event.
But the celebration might clash with another event.
Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Gen. Moeldoko earlier said outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had also prepared a special welcoming ceremony for Joko at the State Palace.
“It will be like an [Independence Day] celebration. SBY will be the ceremony’s inspector and then Joko will take his place as inspector,” Moeldoko said, referring to the president by his initials. “It is similar to the handover of power from one military chief to the next.”
It is not clear what time Yudhoyono’s event will take place. The free concert at the adjacent National Monument Complex, planned by Joko’s supporters, is slated to begin at 4.30 p.m.
The ceremony, planned to be held immediately after Joko’s inauguration at the MPR building, is expected to be attended by selected guests, Moeldoko said.
He added that Yudhoyono also hoped the ceremony would be the start of a new tradition at the State Palace between outgoing and incoming presidents.
Presidential spokesman Heru Lelono said that Yudhoyono would personally oversee preparations to welcome Joko.
Joko has not agreed to Yudhoyono’s plan while others pointed out that Yudhoyono might not be entitled to lead the ceremony since technically he would be an ordinary citizen once Joko is sworn in at the MPR building on Monday morning.
Yudhoyono is also scheduled to attend Joko’s inauguration, which — according to presidential protocol — means he would have to use his private car and the guests’ entrance if he wants to head back to the State Palace and lead the ceremony.
MPR secretary general Edi Siregar said chairpersons of all 10 political parties at the MPR will be invited to attend Joko’s inauguration “including Prabowo and Hatta,” referring losing presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, the chairman of the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) and his running mate Hatta Rajasa, chairman of the National Mandate Party (PAN).
MPR Deputy Speaker Oesman Sapta Odang said he hoped Prabowo could attend his rival’s inauguration as a sign of reconciliation.
“Prabowo is human after all. He has a right to be angry [at Jokowi]. But he can’t stay mad forever,” Oesman said.
In a recent interview with Wall Street Journal, Prabowo’s brother Hashim Djojohadikusumo said Prabowo was outraged by his loss in the presidential race and thinks that Joko, who ran for Jakarta governor under Gerindra’s backing, as a traitor.
Fadli Zon, House of Representatives deputy speaker and Gerindra deputy chairman, however, denied that Prabowo was angry at Joko. “Everything is fine. There is nothing to reconcile,” he said.
But Fadli was unsure whether Prabowo would accept the invitation. “I haven’t asked. It is up to him personally if he comes or doesn’t come,” he continued.
Fadli pointed that Joko’s political patron, PDI-P chairwoman and former president Megawati Soekarnoputri also never adhered to Yudhoyono’s repeated invitations for her to attend state ceremonies during his 10 years in office.
“That’s her right,” he said, adding that Prabowo also has the same right as Megawati. JG