Indonesia's Joko Widodo seeks to ease fears over political gridlock

Indonesia's President-elect Joko Widodo, seen here (above) in July, on Friday sought to reassure Indonesians and foreign investors that his relationship with parliament over the next five years will be one of cooperation, not antagonism. -- PHOT
Indonesia's President-elect Joko Widodo, seen here (above) in July, on Friday sought to reassure Indonesians and foreign investors that his relationship with parliament over the next five years will be one of cooperation, not antagonism. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA (REUTERS) - President-elect Joko Widodo on Friday sought to reassure Indonesians and foreign investors that his relationship with parliament over the next five years would be one of cooperation, not antagonism.

Stocks and the rupiah have come under pressure this month due to fears that South-east Asia's largest economy would face political gridlock after opposition lawmakers won control over parliament.

Widodo, who takes office on Oct 20, said parliament's leadership agreed to back his plans to resolve the fuel subsidy problem, improve infrastructure and streamline government bureaucracy.

"I don't want there to be any more questions about obstruction," Widodo told a news conference with the heads of parliament.

"I believe (parliament) will support fully what we will do as a government in the future. There are no problems."

Setya Novanto, speaker of the House of Representatives, said they agreed that both sides wanted "synergy between the government and all chambers of parliament".

Following his inauguration, Widodo said he will decide as quickly as possible on how best to confront the costly fuel subsidy problem, the main driver behind the country's current account deficit.

"I only have four bits of homework - how to solve the problem of fuel subsidies, infrastructure like roads, railways and (ports)... and bureaucratic reforms, which means business licences, permits and regulations," Widodo told Reuters after the news conference.

Opposition lawmakers led by losing presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto won parliament's top jobs this month, and with it control of the legislative agenda.

Rising hostility from the opposition towards Widodo and his coalition raised concerns among investors and Indonesians that the president-elect's reforms could be blocked.

On Tuesday, Prabowo's brother and senior aide Hashim Djojohadikusumo said his coalition would investigate alleged wrongdoing when Widodo was governor of the capital, Jakarta, and mayor of the city of Solo.