Jakarta election protest turns violent

  • AseanPlus News
  • Wednesday, 22 May 2019

JAKARTA (ANN): A protest to challenge the presidential election results in front of the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) office on Jl. MH Thamrin in Central Jakarta turned into a riot nearing midnight on Tuesday as dozens tried to break into the building.

Thousands of protesters, who were supporters of losing presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, began the rally in the afternoon, demanding the annulment of the victory of incumbent President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, claiming election fraud.

The crowd had been dispersed earlier in the evening before a clash erupted at around 10pm,  when dozens of people tried to force their way into the Bawaslu building by destroying its front gate.

The police tried to disperse the crowd. One person was reportedly arrested for inciting violence, which then caused protesters to demand that the police release the person.

The police ordered the protesters to move back several times.

“The police won’t arrest anyone if he or she made no mistake. We did not touch any of the people. You all should go back to your houses,” Central Jakarta Police Chief Comr. Hari Kurniawan said to the protesters as quoted by kompas.com.

The clashes caused panic at nearby 24-hour restaurants and cafes, such as at a Starbucks store at the Skyline building on Jl. MH Thamrin,  where its baristas immediately rushed to lock doors and roll down window blinds. The cafe employees, who experienced a series of bomb attacks and gunfight in 2016, told visitors to stay away from the windows - which was ignored by most visitors. They chose to record the incident with their phones.

The situation cooled down at around 1 a.m. on Wednesday, but then another clash broke out and expanded to Tanah Abang Market as the police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd of protesters.

However, their numbers increased and the situation turned more violent. They threw stones, firecrackers and Molotov cocktails at the police, causing a fire that burned motorcycles and other objects along the street. The police used a water canon to extinguish the fires and continued to fire tear gas at the protesters.

The rioting continued until 3:30 a.m., when protesters reportedly set fire to a police dormitory in Petamburan, Central Jakarta, along with buses and cars in the compound.

Kumparan.com reported that Farhan Syafero, 30, a resident of Depok, West Java, died of gunshot wounds after he took a bullet to his chest in Tanah Abang.

The General Elections Commission (KPU) has announced incumbent President Jokowi as the winner of the presidential election, securing 55 percent of the vote.

The announcement, which was made two days earlier than expected, upset Prabowo and his supporters, who had planned to go on “people power” rally to protest the results.

The Gerindra Party chairman had declared victory multiple times before the KPU announced his lost.

He is planning to challenge the result at the Constitutional Court. - The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network

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