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Political 'Outsider' Takes Helm in Indonesia

  • VOA News

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, center, waves as he walks with his deputy Jusuf Kalla, bottom right with glasses, after their inauguration ceremony at the Parliament building in Jakarta, Indonesia, Monday, Oct. 20, 2014.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, center, waves as he walks with his deputy Jusuf Kalla, bottom right with glasses, after their inauguration ceremony at the Parliament building in Jakarta, Indonesia, Monday, Oct. 20, 2014.

Indonesia has a new president. Joko Widodo took the oath of office Monday in the capital, Jakarta.

He is the first elected president of Indonesia who has no ties to the country's political or military elite.

Widodo, who was elected major of Jakarta two years ago, won a hotly contested presidential election in July.

The 53-year-old former furniture exporter, widely known as Jokowi, is seen by many as a reformer and a rare candidate without links to Indonesia's controversial longtime president, Suharto, who was ousted in 1998 and died 10 years later.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry attended the inauguration, highlighting the Obama administration's commitment to the Asia-Pacific region.

The U.S. has high hopes that Indonesia - the world's most populous Muslim-majority country - as well as its predominantly Muslim neighbors Malaysia and Brunei can play significant roles in combating Islamist extremism and blunting propaganda from the militants now threatening Syria and Iraq.

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