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Peace returns to Jakarta

This article is more than 12 months old

Most protesters disperse after two nights of clashes with police over the election outcome

JAKARTA: Calm returned to the streets of the Indonesian capital yesterday after a second night of clashes between security forces and protesters angry about the outcome of last month's election, which handed President Joko Widodo a second term.

Downtown areas of Jakarta became a battlefield overnight, with police firing tear gas and rubber bullets and protesters throwing rocks and firecrackers.

Protesters also tore up pavement slabs, destroyed street signs and set ablaze food stalls and a security post.

The unrest followed Tuesday's announcement by the General Election Commission confirming that Mr Joko had beaten his challenger, former general Prabowo Subianto, in the poll.

The violence began on Tuesday night with six killed, and two more died on Wednesday night, officials said.

Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said the dead included three teenagers, and 737 people were injured in the rioting.

But the ranks of protesters thinned on Wednesday night and police spokesman Dedi Praseyto said the last dispersed by 7am.


Roads, quiet on Wednesday as office workers stayed away from the city centre, were busy with traffic again yesterday.

City workers in orange overalls swept up debris.

Mr Joko won more than 85 million of the 154 million votes cast but Mr Prabowo has alleged "massive cheating and irregularities" and refused to concede defeat. The election agency has said there was no evidence of systematic cheating and independent observers have said the poll was free and fair.

Elsewhere, a mob burnt a police station on Madura island, northeast of the main island of Java, while two police posts were set ablaze in Pontianak on Borneo island, according to media reports.

Financial markets were firmer yesterday with the rupiah up 0.5 per cent and the main stock index up 1.6 per cent.

Mr Taye Shim, director of capital markets at Mirae Asset Securities Indonesia, said: "While upset supporters might demonstrate their disagreement with the official election results, we don't think it would be a serious threat to Indonesia's democracy."

Police said the number of arrests over the riots reached 300.

National police spokesman Muhammad Iqbal told reporters at least two men detained during the riots belonged to Garis, a militant group that had pledged support for the Islamic State.

"They intended to carry out jihad during May 21 and 22 protests," Mr Iqbal said.

In a video uploaded to his Twitter account late on Wednesday, Mr Joko urged his supporters to disperse peacefully.

"I beg you to return to your homes to rest, avoid any actions that would break the law," he said. - REUTERS