10/20/2004, 00.00
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Susilo sworn in as Indonesia's new president

Jakarta (AsiaNews/Agencies) – In an official ceremony held in Indonesia' Parliament Building, former general Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) was sworn in as Indonesia's sixth president, the first to be popularly elected. 

As a religious leader held a copy of the Qu'ran above his head, the new president swore the pledge: "In the name of God, I will fulfil my duty as president to the best of my ability". He was followed by the new Vice President Jusuf Kalla.

The ceremony took place before a plenary session of the People's Consultative Assembly and in the presence of foreign leaders and representatives; among them the premiers of Australia, Brunei, East Timor, Malaysia and Singapore.

Outgoing President Megawati Sukarnoputri was absent. Her vice-presidential running mate Hasyim Muzadi was there to represent her party.

Susilo begins his five-year mandate with high expectations and promises hard to fulfill: fighting Islamic terrorism, further economic growth and eradicate corruption.

The new President will have to deal with a hostile parliament where his Democratic Party holds only 10 per cent of the seats and the opposition is organised into a wide coalition. In the presidential election, Megawati's Indonesian Party of Struggle (PDIP) forged an alliance with Golkar (the party of former dictator Suharto), winner of last April's parliamentary elections.

The police remains in high alert against possible terrorist attacks intended to undermine the peaceful transition of power. More than 2,000 police officers guard Parliament Building. Today, late in the afternoon, Susilo will deliver his first official speech to the nation and make public the names of the members of his new cabinet.

The ballot on July 5 (with run-off on September 20) was the first direct presidential election in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country.

Campaign and vote were peaceful and are considered a decisive step in the country's transition to democracy after the fall of Suharto's dictatorship in 1998. (MA)

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