Indonesia election: Police chief warns against causing any unrest

An Indonesian soldier guarding ballot boxes at a village in Depok, Indonesia yesterday, a day after the general election.
An Indonesian soldier guarding ballot boxes at a village in Depok, Indonesia yesterday, a day after the general election.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

JAKARTA • The Indonesian authorities warned yesterday against unrest as a firebrand former general rejected unofficial election results that appeared to hand incumbent President Joko Widodo another term as leader of the world's third-biggest democracy.

National police chief Tito Karnavian said Wednesday's "smooth and safe" polls would not be disrupted by demonstrations, and warned of arrests. "If there are any illegal or unconstitutional actions that threaten public stability and security, (the authorities) will take firm action," he said.

"We won't tolerate it. I urge everyone against mass demonstrations, whether it's to celebrate or to express dissatisfaction" at the results, Mr Tito added.

This year's campaign was punctuated by bitter mudslinging and a slew of fake news online - much of it directed at the presidential contenders. The authorities said yesterday that they had seen a spike in false reports and hoaxes, with some calling for chaos in the streets and for Indonesians to commit violence in response to the results.

However, the capital Jakarta was quiet yesterday after as many as 190 million voters in the Muslim-majority country cast ballots in the one-day election - which featured a record 245,000 candidates - to elect a new president, parliamentarians and local legislators.

While official results are not due until next month, a series of so-called "quick counts" by pollsters, which are based on samples, showed Mr Joko between nine and 11 percentage points ahead. Quick counts have been reliable indicators in past elections, but Mr Joko held off declaring victory - while his rival Prabowo Subianto insisted he was the next leader.

Mr Joko's running mate Ma'ruf Amin called for calm today, saying the pair would not claim victory until official results were released by the electoral commission. "We urge people not to be caught up in euphoria based on the quick count results," he told reporters.

 
 

Mr Prabowo, a former general who has close ties to the Suharto dictatorship which collapsed in 1998, earlier warned he would challenge the results in court if he lost and stage street protests over allegations of voter fraud.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 19, 2019, with the headline 'Police chief warns against causing any unrest'. Print Edition | Subscribe