Tuesday 22 October 2019

Six killed in Jakarta riots amid unrest over outcome of presidential election

Public anger: Police in clashes with protesters in Jakarta yesterday. Photo: Ulet Ifansasti/Getty
Public anger: Police in clashes with protesters in Jakarta yesterday. Photo: Ulet Ifansasti/Getty

Stephen Wright

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said authorities have the volatile situation in the country's capital under control after six people died yesterday in riots by supporters of his losing rival in last month's presidential election.

The clashes began on Tuesday night when supporters of former General Prabowo Subianto tried to force their way into the downtown offices of the election supervisory agency and have continued unabated since then.

More than two dozen vehicles were burned as rioters took over neighbourhoods in central Jakarta, throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at police who responded with tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets.

Flanked by the military chief and other top leaders, a grim-looking Mr Widodo said: "I will work together with anyone to advance this country, but I will not tolerate anyone who disrupts the security, democratic processes and unity of our beloved nation."

Mr Subianto, an ultra-nationalist politician, has refused to accept the official results of the April 17 election and instead declared himself the winner.

The Election Commission on Tuesday said Mr Widodo, the first Indonesian president from outside the Jakarta elite, had won 55.5pc of the vote, securing the moderate technocrat a second term as leader of the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation.

Mr Subianto, an elite figure from a wealthy family connected to former dictator Suharto, also lost to Mr Widodo in 2014. He has made four unsuccessful bids for the presidency since Suharto was ousted in 1998.

"The bottom line is the people who are protesting and rioting in the past 24 hours represent a small minority of Indonesian voters and a small minority of Indonesian Muslims," said Alexander Arifanto, an Indonesian politics expert at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.

"The vast majority of both clearly accepted the election results. By tacitly backing the protesters, Prabowo has lost any remaining legitimacy he had left."

Rudiantara, the communications and information technology minister, said social media will be restricted on a temporary basis to prevent the spread of hoaxes and inflammatory content.

National police chief Tito Karnavian said the people who died in the rioting were hit by gunshots or blunt devices.

Authorities are still investigating the causes of death and are not ruling out the involvement of third parties acting as provocateurs. "There are attempts to create martyrs, blaming security officials for building public anger," he said.

The rioting in the capital was planned and not spontaneous, according to police.

Irish Independent

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