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Economy

Indonesia's indigenous voices turn on Widodo

Former supporters claim president has not kept promises

Fredy Wowor, an academic and Minahasa community leader, left, performs at a parade at the fifth congress of the Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago. (Photo by Peter Guest)

TANGUNG GUSTA, Indonesia -- The image of Indonesian President Joko Widodo still gazes out from billboards along the dirt road that leads from the North Sumatran capital of Medan to Tanjung Gusta. On a recent weekend the town -- a scrappy suburb to the west of the city -- took on the air of an unusual rock festival, with thudding music, craft stalls and food carts, as thousands of representatives gathered for the quinquennial congress of the Indigenous People's Alliance of the Archipelago, which is known by its Bahasa Indonesian acronym, Aman.

The president was supposed to be the guest of honor at the gathering, but he cancelled at the last minute, choosing instead to travel to West Kalimantan to open a new border post. He sent his environment minister and chief of staff but his absence was taken as a snub by many delegates, who were mulling over whether to endorse "Jokowi," as he is known, for a second presidential term.

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