JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – Violence has escalated into the second consecutive night of wild riots in Indonesia’ capital city, Jakarta showed after President Joko Widodo had been re-elected. Thousands of anti-Widodo protesters have been gathering at the headquarters of the election supervisory agency since mid-day on Tuesday.
National police in full protective gear clashed with rioters in front of the agency’ building, with similar stand-offs in other parts of the capital continuing even as President Widodo on Wednesday afternoon warned that the authorities would crack down on those seeking to disrupt the democratic process.
As of press time last night, police officers stood in a tight riot-control formation as their full body-length shields took on a barrage of Molotov cocktails, rocks, firecrackers and other projectiles thrown by rioters in downtown Jakarta.
Elsewhere, in West and North Jakarta, a separate battalion of troops, supplemented by marines from the Indonesian armed forces, camped out along a street as the chief provocateurs of another riot there stalled negotiations with the authorities.
During hours of bedlam, angry mobs set fire to a Jakarta election building, cars, motorbikes and just about any pile of debris they could find on the street.
Rioters hurled countless Molotov cocktails and firecrackers at a bolstered security force of 50,000 members. Police and military personnel returned fire with rubber pellets, tear gas and water cannons – under strict orders not to use live ammunition to prevent the number of casualties. Hundreds of violent protesters have been taken into custody.
At least 257 men, including those suspected to be provocateurs of the violence, reportedly have been arrested so far and investigations are continuing.
Six people were killed and more than 200 injured during the first night of conflict with those figures expected to rise as the fallout from the second night of rioting is realized.
The protesters are supporters of opposition presidential, candidate Prabowo Subianto, who claims he’s been the victim of election fraud. But, the camp of Subianto has denied responsibility for the violence and blames third party provokers.
Police are also investigating the possibility of third party involvement after seizing large sums of money from arrested rioters, and with some protesters dying from gunshot wounds even though officers aren’t firing live rounds.
Re-elected President Widodo said he will not give in to the protesters who are demanding he step down, and that authorities will take stern action against those violating the law.
“I am open to anyone who wants to join hands to build and develop this country together but I will not tolerate those who disrupt security, the process of democracy and the unity of our believed country,” Widodo said.
“That is not an option – the military and police will take firm action in accordance with the appropriate laws,” he adds.
Widodo’s victory has been marred by public protests against the results, amid allegations of electoral fraud by his challenger, Subianto. Many in the capital Jakarta to scenes of black smoke billowing from burnt vehicles and policemen in stand-offs with provocateurs on the outskirts of the city – leading to fears of a repeat of the 1998 unrest in Indonesia prior to the fall of the Suharto regime.
Chief Security Minister Wiranto, said, “paid thugs” were behind the unrest that broke out yesterday morning. Based on our investigations, we are aware of the masterminds behind this unrest… and our security forces will take stern action based on the law,” he said.
National police chief Tito Karnavian yesterday confirmed that his officers had seized envelopes stashed with cash from the rioters who were arrested during the clashes, which caused damage to 25 vehicles, including some belonging to the police.
“We found separate envelopes with a total of nearly six million rupiahs in cash,” said the police general, adding that the suspects claimed they were paid to riot.
Wiranto yesterday defended the actions of the police, saying a country should always protect its people after some had criticized the use of force.
He also said that the authorities will partially restrict social media usage for two to three days to prevent the spread of hoaxes that may provoke further violence.
“To avoid provocations, the spread of fake news among the people, we will limit access to certain features on social media,” he added.
Written by Lexy Nantu, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org