At least 18 heads of state, heads of government and special envoys of friendly countries are planning to attend the inauguration of President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo and Vice President Ma'ruf Amin on Sunday. (Photo courtesy of Mercedes Benz Distribution Indonesia)

Foreign Dignitaries to Attend Jokowi's Inauguration Despite Security Concerns in Jakarta

BY :RULLY SATRIADI, CARLOS KY PAATH

OCTOBER 19, 2019

Jakarta. At least 18 heads of state, heads of government and special envoys of friendly countries are planning to attend the inauguration of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Vice President Ma'ruf Amin on Sunday. 

The once-in-five-years event will be held at the House of Representatives compound in Jakarta, just weeks after massive student protests erupted in the capital and a brazen stabbing attack in Banten against the chief security minister shocked the country.  

Heru Budi Hartono, the head of the Presidential Secretariat, said heads of state and government from Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Vietnam, Myanmar and the Philippines have confirmed their attendance. 

The People's Republic of China and Vietnam will be represented by their vice presidents, while Thailand will send their deputy prime minister.

The United States and Laos are sending special envoys, Budi said. 

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement that Indonesia's southern neighbor seeks to reaffirm the two countries' "unique ties and shared vision of a peaceful Indo-Pacific region." 

Morrison said he hoped to build on the comprehensive Indonesia-Australia strategic partnership announced by President Joko Widodo and himself last year, especially in trade and investment, maritime issues, security, counter-terrorism, transnational crime, infrastructure and education.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Muhammad has also confirmed his attendance and sent his regards to the president.

"I congratulate Mr. Jokowi, the President of the Republic of Indonesia, for his election victory. I hope the cooperation between our two countries will be even tighter [in his second term]," Mahathir said. 

Heightened Security

Heru said security forces have been on the alert in Jakarta and security protocols tightened to ensure minimal disruption to the inauguration. 
 
"The Indonesian Military and the National Police are coordinating security in the capital. In every hotel where state guests are staying, we have extra guards on standby 24 hours a day," Heru said.

Police have rounded up 36 suspected terrorists linked to militant group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah in the past week, fearing more terror attacks during Jokowi's inauguration following the stabbing attack on Chief Security Minister Wiranto last week. 

On Friday, anti-terror squad Detachment 88 arrested two other terror suspects in Deli Serdang, North Sumatra.

Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko said the government has added extra personnel to the Presidential Guard (Paspampres) to escort VVIP guests. 

"Because there will be heads of state from friendly countries, we've added more VVIP security personnel," Moeldoko said. 

The Presidential Secretariat has partnered with Mercedes-Benz Distribution Indonesia, the local distributor of the German carmaker, to provide official cars for the VVIP guests while they are in Jakarta.

According to Heru, Mercedes will lend 11 S-Class and six E-Class sedans to the government for free.

Choi Duk Jun, Mercedes Indonesia's president director, said the company is proud of its involvement in the inauguration ceremony. 

"Aside from providing the cars, we are also offering training for the drivers. Additionally, we will also provide our own mechanics who will be on a 24-hour standby this weekend to ensure all the cars are in perfect condition,” Choi said.

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