Calm returns to Jakarta after deadly riots

Right: Workers cleaning up debris yesterday after the previous night's violent clashes between police and rioters in Jakarta. Above: Police officers taking a breather. ST PHOTOS: ARIFFIN JAMAR
Above: Workers cleaning up debris yesterday after the previous night's violent clashes between police and rioters in Jakarta. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR
Right: Workers cleaning up debris yesterday after the previous night's violent clashes between police and rioters in Jakarta. Above: Police officers taking a breather. ST PHOTOS: ARIFFIN JAMAR
Above: Police officers taking a breather. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Violence over Indonesian election results subsides but police still guarding key places

Indonesia's capital city was calm yesterday, after two days of riots over the presidential election results, but with police visibly guarding key government buildings and intersections.

The authorities have said the rioting was orchestrated by thugs paid to vandalise, attack officers and stir up tensions.

Many road blockades had been removed by yesterday, with motorists seen on the roads as cleaners picked up used plastic mineral water bottles and other garbage from the streets and pedestrian areas.

But road blockades remained outside the office of the election supervisory agency Bawaslu, the centre of the protest rallies. The smell of tear gas lingered in the air when The Straits Times visited the area early yesterday morning.

More than a hundred police officers were seen guarding the major thoroughfare, which is surrounded by a shopping centre, hotels and government offices.

MRT services resumed operations at 8.30am, serving all stations except the one near the Bawaslu headquarters.

Mr Harry Sukisman, owner of household goods shop Toko Jaya, which is 400m from Bawaslu, was serving customers as he reopened his shop after two days of closure.

"We could see this morning that the road in front of us got crowded again with cars, so we decided to reopen shop," the 68-year-old told The Straits Times.

Tensions rose in the city after the election commission declared on Tuesday that incumbent President Joko Widodo had defeated Mr Prabowo Subianto with a 55.5 per cent share of the votes, to his rival's 44.5 per cent, in the April 17 presidential election.

 
 
 

Mr Prabowo has rejected the result, alleging widespread fraud. He plans to file a legal challenge in the Constitutional Court by the deadline, which is today.

What started out as a peaceful rally to protest against the result turned violent on Tuesday evening outside Bawaslu, as new groups of people suddenly appeared and started attacking the riot police.

Sporadic street battles occurred in several places in Jakarta on Wednesday.

The two days of riots left seven people dead and more than 300 wounded. Police said yesterday that four of those killed sustained stab wounds.

As of Wednesday night, 257 suspects had been arrested.

"TNI (armed forces) and police remain on guard doing preventive and pre-emptive measures, while prosecution of the arrested rioters is starting," national police spokesman Mohammad Iqbal told reporters yesterday.

Among those to be prosecuted are two militants who are members of Garis, which had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria extremist group, as well as sent its cadres to Syria to fight. Convicted terrorist Abu Bakar Bashir was a member of Garis' supervisory board.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 24, 2019, with the headline 'Calm returns to Jakarta after deadly riots'. Print Edition | Subscribe