Jokowi blasts 'political actors' for inciting violence during Jakarta rally against Governor Basuki

Indonesian President Joko Widodo gesturing during an interview with Reuters at the presidential palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Feb 10, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS
A protester swinging a steel bar at the police in Jakarta. PHOTO: WAHYUDI SOERIAATMADJA

JAKARTA -President Joko Widodo yesterday blamed "political actors" for the escalation of violence at Friday's (Nov 4) protest, believed to be the largest mass demonstration in Jakarta since the 1998 race riots.

"I see that political actors have taken advantage of the situation," he said, referring to his political opponents.

The police on Saturday (Nov 5) also announced that they are questioning 10 suspects for instigating the violence that broke out at the end of the mass march which had gone on peacefully until late on Friday night.

Speaking at a press conference broadcast live, national police spokesman Inspector General Boy Rafli Amar said that the police is also questioning 15 other people over alleged looting attempts in North Jakarta.

"Street rallies are allowed but it doesn't mean there is no limit in what any individual can do," said Inspector General Boy Rafli.

Police had to resort to tear-gas and water cannon to pacify the aggressive crowd of hardline Muslims at the rally, which was called to demand the arrest of Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama over alleged blasphemy.

During the conference, Inspector General Boy Rafli displayed photos of protesters using sharpened bamboo sticks and pelting stones at police offers, as well as one protester swinging a long steel bar.

"These items are not allowed as they can harm anyone," he said, adding that more than 70 officers were injured in the violence, while 21 vehicles were vandalised.

Police spokesman Boy Rafli said that an agreement was reached for the protesters to disperse outside Parliament building early on Saturday morning after Parliament agreed to closely monitor the investigation of alleged blasphemy by Mr Basuki.

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