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Morrison to visit for Joko swearing in as Indonesian president

Sydney Morning Herald - October 7, 2019

James Massola, Jakarta – Scott Morrison will spend two days in Indonesia's capital to attend the second inauguration of President Joko Widodo, his second visit in just over a year.

But Joko, who will finally be sworn in on October 20, more than six months after winning the April 17 election, will not address the Australian Parliament this year.

Instead, diplomats in Canberra and Jakarta are eyeing a date in late January or February next year for Joko to visit Australia and potentially address a joint sitting of Australia's Parliament.

Joko Widodo's rode a wave of hope to a second presidential term.

Joko has endured a dreadful month, with protests across the country about a proposed new penal code and weakening of the anti-corruption commission, forest fires raging in Sumatra and Kalimantan, and deadly protests in the provinces of Papua and West Papua.

If Joko does address a joint sitting of Parliament – an honour afforded to few world leaders – he would be the second Indonesian president to do so, following in the footsteps of former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in March 2010.

Yudhoyono used his address to call for greater political and economic co-operation between the two nations.

Morrison's visit continues the curious diplomatic tradition of Australian prime ministers effectively inviting themselves to the inauguration of Indonesian presidents.

The tradition began under John Howard in 2004 when he attended Yudhoyono's inauguration in 2004. Kevin Rudd attended Yudhoyono's second inauguration in 2009 and Tony Abbott attended the first swearing in of Joko in 2014.

Indonesia does not issue invitations for the swearing-in ceremony but it accommodates world leaders, foreign minister and senior diplomats who express the desire to attend the event.

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and other ASEAN leaders will attend, as will Chinese vice-president Wang Qishan and senior representatives from countries such as South Korea and Japan.

Relations between Australia and Indonesia are currently in good repair, with the signing of a free trade deal earlier this year – though both parliaments still need to ratify the deal – and close co-operation between the two nations in areas such as counter-terrorism.

Joko and former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull – who was recently in Indonesia on a private visit in which he saw the President – were close and struck up a firm friendship.

The Indonesian President was dismayed by Turnbull's removal as leader and Morrison has had to work hard to rebuild trust with his counterpart in Jakarta.

Source: https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/morrison-to-visit-for-joko-swearing-in-as-indonesian-president-20191007-p52yes.html