Joko Widodo, a commoner who was born in a Javan slum, was sworn in on Monday as president of Indonesia, completing an improbable political rise from hometown mayor to leader of the world’s fourth most-populous nation.
Mr. Joko, 53, is the first Indonesian president not to have emerged from the country’s political elite or to have been an army general. He succeeded Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who stepped down on Monday after serving two five-year terms.
With a Quran, the holy book of Islam, held above his head, Mr. Joko took the oath of office during a nationally televised special session of the People’s Consultative Assembly, a legislative superbody dominated by the House of Representatives. Indonesia, an emerging democracy, is the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation and has the largest economy in Southeast Asia.
Mr. Joko’s vice president, Jusuf Kalla, also took the oath of office during the session.
Among the foreign dignitaries attending the ceremony were Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore, Prime Minister Tony Abbott of Australia and John Kerry, the American secretary of state.
The inauguration provided a respite for Indonesia from a tense political period that has endured since the country’s July 9 presidential election. Mr. Joko defeated Prabowo Subianto, a former general and son-in-law of Suharto, the late authoritarian president who was forced from office amid pro-democracy demonstrations in 1998.
Mr. Prabowo, however, leads a coalition of opposition parties that controls a majority of seats and all the leadership positions in the House of Representatives and that has vowed to challenge Mr. Joko’s policy agenda at every turn. Some opposition leaders have vowed to be obstructionist and have even called for corruption investigations against the new president from his time as mayor of Surakarta, in Central Java, as well as governor of Jakarta.
Following a meeting last Friday between the pair to ease tensions, Mr. Prabowo attended Monday’s inauguration. Mr. Joko acknowledged him and referred to him as “my good friend” during his speech.