Six dead, mass arrests as Indonesian election protests turn violent

| 22.05,19. 04:45 PM |



Six dead, mass arrests as Indonesian election protests turn violent



Photo: Indonesians are protesting against the result of the nation's recent election. (AP: Achmad Ibrahim)


Six people have died and 200 have been injured in civil unrest in the Indonesian capital after the election commission confirmed President Joko Widodo had won last month's election, according to Jakarta's Governor.


Indonesia's Election Commission on Tuesday said Mr Widodo had won a second term with 55.5 per cent of the vote in the April 17 election.


It was announced about 2:00am, which was believed to be in an effort to avoid mass rioting.


A small group of hardcore supporters of unsuccessful presidential candidate and retired special forces general Prabowo Subianto clashed with riot police at several locations in central Jakarta, burning vehicles — including a police bus — and throwing rocks at police using tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons.


"As per 9:00am, there were 200 people hurt being brought to five hospitals," Governor Anies Baswedan told broadcaster TVOne.


"The number of people dead was six," he said, adding hospitals were conducting post-mortems to determine the cause of death.


The worst rioting occurred outside the headquarters of Indonesia's elite Brimob police unit in Tanah Abang, just west of Jakarta's central business district.


Protesters also tried to force their way into the downtown offices of the election supervisory agency late Tuesday and clashes have continued since then.


Several office buildings and embassies in downtown Jakarta were closed on Wednesday, as were train stations in the area.


A crowd in front of the election supervisory body threw rocks and firecrackers at police around dawn, and dozens of chanting protesters joined them during the morning.


Hundreds of police in riot gear blocked the usually busy Sarinah intersection to hold back a crowd they said was expected to swell further in the afternoon.


"We will keep going with these protests until he [Widodo] falls," 58-year-old Subianto supporter Afi Sikumbang said.


White-robed protesters blocked streets in one central Jakarta neighbourhood and in another, they fought running battles with police, throwing rocks and setting fires.


During the night, vehicles and a paramilitary police dormitory were set ablaze as police battled protesters who threw molotov cocktails and burning projectiles.


"As of now, police have arrested more than 20 people we thought were the provocateurs and who did other crimes," police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said.


Mr Subianto refused to accept the election results and declared himself the winner, while his campaign announced plans to challenge the election in the Constitutional Court.


They allege massive fraud but have provided no credible evidence.


Mr Widodo's chief of staff, retired general Moeldoko, said Mr Subianto's team was challenging the result through the proper channels but there was a "systematic effort from a certain group … taking advantage of this situation" and trying to escalate tensions.


He urged the public not to get involved.


"There's an attempt to make the situation worse," Dr Moeldoko said.


"This is clearly an attempt to cause unrest. I can firmly say that because the legal effort is ongoing, but there are groups that would like to see the situation gets worse and worse."


Dr Moeldoko said his team saw this coming.


"We predicted that the escalation would increase," he said.


"Our personnel are ready and [the protesters] plan to attack police facilities and police personnel.


"We predicted that today [would be] the highest escalation and hopefully today will everything will be resolved."


ABC/Reuters


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