INDONESIAN President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has walked for 2km to a military parade after being stuck in the country’s notorious traffic.
Jokowi’s car was gridlocked on the way to a ceremony for the 72nd anniversary of the Indonesian National Armed Forces (TNI) in Cilegon, West Java, close to the capital city of Jakarta.
In an Instagram post, Jokowi noted that “residents were very enthusiastic to watch the parade … it was very crowded so the streets became gridlocked. Pretty good exercise walking to the location of the ceremony.”
Warga antusias banget nonton HUT TNI ke-72 di Cilegon. Rame sekali, jalanan sampai tersendat. Lumayan olah raga jalan kaki menuju lokasi upacara. Selamat HUT TNI ke-72. TNI terus menjaga NKRI, Pancasila, dan kewibawaan negara kita. TNI adalah kekuatan besar yg disegani di dalam dan luar negeri. Video: Biro Pers Setpres
In an address during the subsequent the ceremony, Jokowi emphasised that the military should stay out of politics in Indonesia’s democracy.
“The Indonesian military is a national property that is above all classes, groups [and] which is not fragmented by narrow political interests and does not enter into the practical political arena,” said Jokowi.
“Politics and loyalty to the nation and the state mean loyalty to fight for the interests of the people, loyalty to maintain the territorial integrity and unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia, and loyalty to the legitimate government.”
His remarks came amid growing controversy over the actions and what analysts perceive as the political ambitions of Armed Forces Commander General Gatot Nurmantyo, who promotes the notion that Indonesia is besieged by “proxy wars” involving foreign states and even a renewed communist threat.
The TNI enjoyed a powerful central role in politics and society for three decades under the authoritarian rule of Suharto, the former general who took power after leading a 1965 purge that killed at least 500,000 alleged communists.
Since the country transitioned to democracy in 1998, the TNI has formally withdrawn from political life but retains a strong position in society, and former generals remain prominent in politics.
“The TNI continues to defend the Republic of Indonesia, Pancasila (the state ideology) and the dignity of our country. The TNI is a powerful force respected at home and abroad,” added the President’s Instagram post.
Additional reporting by Reuters