Jakarta on alert for civil unrest ahead of official election results

Barbed wire placed outside Indonesia's General Elections Commission in Jakarta. With the official election results set to be announced by tomorrow, the authorities have tightened security and detained dozens of militants suspected of planning attacks
Barbed wire placed outside Indonesia's General Elections Commission in Jakarta. With the official election results set to be announced by tomorrow, the authorities have tightened security and detained dozens of militants suspected of planning attacks during demonstrations.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

JAKARTA • Police rolled out more barbed wire yesterday to tighten security outside Indonesia's election agency and readied armoured trucks and water cannon to quell any civil unrest when official results of presidential polls are released this week.

With the General Elections Commission set to declare its count from last month's election by tomorrow, the authorities have detained dozens of Islamist militants suspected of planning attacks during demonstrations.

The result is expected to confirm unofficial counts by private pollsters that put incumbent President Joko Widodo about 10 percentage points ahead of challenger Prabowo Subianto.

Although independent observers and analysts have said that the polls were free and fair, Mr Prabowo has refused to concede defeat, with his campaign team making accusations of "massive cheating and irregularities" during the vote and vote-counting.

The retired general has said that the situation could trigger "people power"-style protests, while the government and police have urged protesters to keep the peace and vowed action against anyone stirring unrest.

Indonesia's election supervisory panel has dismissed two official complaints of election cheating, on grounds of insufficient evidence of violations.

Heavily armed security stood guard outside the election commission in central Jakarta, some accompanied by police dogs.

 
 
 
 

Last week, Chief Security Minister Wiranto ordered police and military across Indonesia to prevent people from travelling to Jakarta en masse to join protests.

In a security alert, the United States Embassy in Jakarta advised citizens to avoid the sites of large demonstrations. The Australian Embassy also warned that protests could unexpectedly turn violent.

Mr Joko leads with 55 per cent of the vote, while Mr Prabowo has 45 per cent, going by the panel's official count of nearly 90 per cent of votes.

Once the official result is released, the losing party can lodge a legal challenge in the constitutional court. Otherwise, the commission will officially declare the winner by May 28.

Mr Prabowo has not yet confirmed if he intends to go to court. His challenge to his 2014 defeat by Mr Joko was rejected.

REUTERS



ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Jakarta braces itself for post-election unrest

Police rolled out barbed wire on the streets of the Indonesian capital yesterday ahead of street demonstrations set to take place when the official results of last month's presidential polls are released. The results will be announced by tomorrow. A banner (left) outside the headquarters of Indonesia's elections commission (KPU) carries the message, "Pray for the safety of KPU and Bawaslu", the elections watchdog. Over 32,000 security personnel have been mobilised, and dozens of suspected militants have been arrested to thwart possible terror attacks during the protests.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 21, 2019, with the headline 'Jakarta on alert for civil unrest ahead of official election results'. Print Edition | Subscribe