Indonesia tightens security ahead of President Joko Widodo's swearing-in for second term

Indonesian President Joko Widodo (centre) talks to media after visiting wounded Security Minister Wiranto at the Gatot Subroto army hospital in Jakarta, on Oct 10, 2019. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

JAKARTA - Indonesia is beefing up security ahead of President Joko Widodo's swearing-in for his second and final term on Oct 20, after a series of protests and violent attacks in the capital and some other parts of the country over the past few weeks.

In late September, massive student protests erupted in Jakarta and other cities over the passing of controversial Bills into laws by Parliament, and last Thursday, chief security minister Wiranto was stabbed twice by a militant linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) while in Pandeglang regency, Banten province.

The inauguration of Mr Joko and vice president Ma'ruf Amin in the Parliament building in Central Jakarta will be attended by a number of foreign leaders including Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Malaysia Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, China Vice President Wang Qishan and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

President Joko, better known as Jokowi, had won the election in April after beating challenger Prabowo Subianto, a former army general.

About 30,000 joint personnel from the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) and the National Police will be stationed in Jakarta ahead and during the inauguration, National Police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo told The Straits Times on Tuesday (Oct 15).

In 2014, around 24,000 personnel were deployed for the inauguration.

"Regional police in areas such as West Java and Banten will perform their security tasks as supporting units. Other police in areas like Central Java and East Java will also guard all events held by the public," he said.

There will be a concentration of security forces in a number of places in the capital, in particular the palaces in Jakarta where the inauguration will be carried out, Brig-Gen Dedi added.

Special security forces will also be deployed in the Central Java city of Solo, the hometown of Mr Joko, a former furniture exporter.

The popular tourist destination Bali will remain under close watch following the arrest of two alleged terrorists in the island's Jembrana regency last Thursday.

The two men, identified only as AT and ZAI, had pledged allegiance to ISIS, Bali police spokesman Hengky Widjaja had said in a statement on Oct 12.

AT is a known close associate of Abu Rara, the man who attacked Mr Wiranto. They belong to the "Waiting for Al Mahdi" social media group, the police spokesman added.

The 41-year-old Abu, whose real name is Syahril Alamsyah, was assisted by his 21-year-old wife, Fitri Andriana, in carrying out the attack against Mr Wiranto, a former military general.

"Both AT and ZAI, who are a father and son pair,had planned to resist arrest and throw their cell phones and laptops into the water," Mr Hengky said.

But the police managed to seize their phones and laptops, along with other evidence including arrows, airsoft guns, and bayonets. They were preparing to carry out attacks in Bali region.

Mr Wiranto was among four high-ranking officials targeted for assassination by suspects linked to a series of street attacks in Jakarta soon after Mr Joko's victory was made official in May. The plot was aimed at destabilising the country.

Police had said earlier that militant groups were also behind riots that gripped parts of Central and West Jakarta over two days from May 21 that resulted in at least eight deaths and hundreds of injuries.

The other three targeted are: Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan, State Intelligence Agency chief Budi Gunawan and presidential special staff Gories Mere.

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