Indonesia President Warns of Crackdown Amid Violent Protests

Published May 23rd, 2019 - 11:21 GMT
Indonesian protesters throw stones at riot police during a demonstration against the re-election of Indonesian president in Jakarta on May 22, 2019. (AFP/ File)
Indonesian protesters throw stones at riot police during a demonstration against the re-election of Indonesian president in Jakarta on May 22, 2019. (AFP/ File)
Protests continued for a second straight night in Jakarta.

Protests continued for a second straight night in Jakarta Wednesday as supporters of a failed presidential candidate clashed with police despite President Joko Widodo warning of a severe crackdown against those who threaten national security.

President Widodo told the nation Wednesday, a day after Indonesia's General Elections Commission announced that he had secured a second term as president over rival Prabowo Subinato, that those who threaten the security of the country would be dealt with.

"I will not tolerate those who disrupt security, the process of democracy and the unity of our beloved country," he said from the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta.

"There is no other option: The military and police will carry out stern actions in accordance to the law," he said.

On Wednesday evening, National Jakarta Police spokesman Chief Argo Yuwono confirmed that 257 protesters had been arrested at three locations in connection to the protests, which he said were not only planned but funded, the Jakarta Globe reported.

Along with firecrackers, arrowheads, mobile phones and Molotov cocktails seized from the crime scenes, police also confiscated envelopes with between $14 to $35.

He said police also seized about $344 from one suspect believed to be for operating funds and $2,360 from another.

"[The riots] were planned, organized," he said. "There are funders. Objects were prepared, such as in Petamburan where rocks and arrowheads were left on the side of the road in preparation for the protesters' arrival."

The suspects were arrested near the Election Supervisory Agency offices where protests began Tuesday for attacking police officers, destroying property and attempting to force their way into the building.

In Petamburan, suspects were apprehended for attacking a police dormitory and setting vehicles on fire. Arrests were also made in Gambir, where a police station and another dormitory were attacked.

The suspects, who coordinated through WhatsApp messaging application, face up to 20 years in jail if found guilty, he said.

National Police chief Tito Karnavian said the suspects said they were paid to riot, The Straits Times reported.

"Based on our investigations, we are aware of the masterminds behind this unrest," he said. "Our security forces will take stern action based on the law."

At least six people have died and 200 were reported injured during the protests that ignited in Indonesia's capital Tuesday after the surprise announcement of Widodo's victory over Subinato, a former military general.

Subinato, 67, said he rejected the result, saying the vote was rigged. Widodo, 57, won a second term as president with 55.5 percent of the April 17 vote to Subinato's 44.5 percent.

Subinato then called for scheduled protests to continue, though peacefully.

"I repeat, avoid physical violence, act politely, respect law enforcers and never use violence," he said Wednesday.

The U.S. Embassy in Indonesia also issued a security alert, informing Americans to avoid demonstrations and be aware of their surroundings.

"At multiple sites in central Jakarta, specifically new Tanah Abang and Jl. Wahid Hasyim in Menteng, clashes are taking place between police and protesters," it said in a statement on its website. "The Embassy strongly advises U.S. citizens to avoid these areas."

This article has been adapted from its original source.

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