Jokowi threatens to fire police if haze engulfs Indonesia again

Indonesian President Joko Widodo gestures as he talks during an interview at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia. - Reuters

Indonesia (Bloomberg): President Joko Widodo warned the police to stop large fires from engulfing the country as the threat of El Nino - a dry weather pattern - looms across Indonesia.

If large fires were to happen in a province, the local police chiefs would be held accountable and dismissed as a result, Jokowi, as the president is known, said in a meeting of law enforcement officials on Wednesday.

Southeast Asia has been spared from a choking haze in the last three years as wetter-than-normal dry seasons curb fires. In 2019, smog blanketed parts of Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia for months as more than 1.6 million hectares of land was burnt across Indonesia.

The weather agency expects the dry season in 2023 to be more intense than the previous three years, but there’s still a 50% chance that the El Nino pattern would be weak.

Jokowi also warned the police to crack down on illegal mining to ensure it doesn’t disrupt his push to downstream the country’s commodities exports.

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