A nation as rich in resources as Indonesia has great potential for growth and development. President Joko Widodo has embarked on his second and final term in a stronger political position pledging to focus on completing ambitious infrastructure projects and boosting investment in education and social welfare.
But despite the possibilities, from the outset he faces challenges, as evidenced by the deadly riots that greeted the announcement of his victory by supporters of presidential rival Prabowo Subianto, who still refuses to concede defeat.
Apart from months of bargaining ahead to form a government, there is global economic uncertainty, opposition to Chinese investment and distain of the incumbent's moderate stand towards Islam.
Widodo's triumph in the April 17 poll is seemingly unassailable, final figures showing a 10 percentage-point or almost 17 million-vote advantage, a winning margin about double that of the 2014 election. Parties in his coalition are set to hold a majority in the lower house of parliament.
But Prabowo claims there has been rampant electoral fraud and that he is the winner and vowed to challenge the result in the constitutional court. With the interests of Indonesia in mind, he should graciously admit defeat so that the healing of divisions can promptly begin.
Reconciliation will not be easy; at least six people were killed and hundreds hurt in the unrest in Jakarta, which had an anti-Chinese tenor. The perceived wealth and influence of the country's 3 million ethnic Chinese has long rankled and several times led to the community being brutally targeted.
Widodo's turning to Beijing for investment and signing on to its "Belt and Road Initiative" has led to a renewal of tensions, with some Indonesians accusing him of selling out the country. Foreign finance and expertise are needed to ensure his infrastructure goals are attained and China can have a significant role, but a deft approach is needed to explain and educate while moving against extremists and those spreading fear and hate.
Fears of unrest in Indonesia as Jokowi wins second term as president
The government does not get sworn in until October and its formation will involve tough negotiating. Vested interests will also challenge Widodo's promise to deliver on a reform agenda that will require cutting red tape, overcoming corruption, attracting greater foreign investment and navigating a worsening global trade environment that is hampering growth. Record spending will be needed to further the achievements of his first five-year term during which there was unprecedented infrastructure development.
Boosting investment and exports are necessary to lift growth and China is eager and willing to help. But opponents to his agenda have to also be brought on board if opportunities and the country's potential are to be fully tapped.
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