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Protesters clash with police after Joko Widodo is reelected as Indonesia’s president

Protests following the announcement of election results in Jakarta, Indonesia - 22 May 2019
Protesters and police clash Wednesday in Jakarta after the announcement of election results.
(Mast Irham / EPA/Shutterstock)

Supporters of an unsuccessful presidential candidate clashed with security forces in the Indonesian capital on Wednesday, burning vehicles and throwing rocks at police, who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.

The protesters tried to force their way into the downtown offices of the election supervisory agency late Tuesday, and clashes have continued since. National Police spokesman Muhammad Iqbal said most of the protesters had come from outside Jakarta and nearly 60 suspected provocateurs had been arrested.

For the record:
4:40 PM, May. 21, 2019 An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported Prabowo Subianto’s share of the vote total as 45.5%. It was 44.5%.

Local media reported several deaths and dozens of injured among the protesters. The governor of Jakarta, Anies Baswedan, who is aligned with losing presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, said there were six deaths, but there has been no official confirmation.

White-robed protesters blocked streets in one central Jakarta neighborhood, and in another they fought running battles with police, throwing rocks and setting fires.

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During the night, vehicles and a paramilitary police dormitory were set ablaze as officers using tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon battled protesters, who threw Molotov cocktails and other burning projectiles.

Indonesia’s General Elections Commission announced Tuesday that President Joko Widodo had won a second term with 55.5% of the vote in the April 17 election.

Prabowo, a former special forces general, has refused to accept the results and declared himself the winner. His campaign plans to challenge the election in the Constitutional Court alleging massive fraud, though it has provided no credible evidence.

The government had deployed some 50,000 police officers and soldiers in Jakarta in anticipation of protests, said Jakarta police spokesman Argo Yuwono. Many residents have left the city and parts of downtown are closed to traffic, with the election supervisory agency and elections commission barricaded with razor wire.

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In the last week, authorities have arrested three pro-Prabowo activists on suspicion of treason, the National Police said, including a retired general and former commander of Indonesia’s special forces. Police allege that there was a plot to seize crucial government buildings in Jakarta.

Prabowo and members of his campaign team had said they would mobilize “people power” for days of street protests. The former general had called on supporters to refrain from violence.

Prabowo, who also lost to Joko in 2014, ran a fear-based campaign, emphasizing what he sees as Indonesia’s weakness and the risk of exploitation by foreign powers or disintegration.

He aligned himself with hard-line Muslim groups and won massive majorities in conservative provinces such as Aceh, which follows Sharia law, but was defeated in Joko’s populous strongholds in East Java and Central Java provinces.

Joko’s campaign highlighted his progress in reducing poverty and improving Indonesia’s inadequate infrastructure with new ports, toll roads, airports and mass rapid transit.

Official counting was completed just before midnight, and the General Elections Commission announced the result early Tuesday. It said the president had won in 21 of 34 provinces and got 85.6 million votes compared with about 68.5 million for Prabowo.

Declaring victory, Joko said he and his running mate, conservative cleric Ma’ruf Amin, “will be the president and vice president of all the people in Indonesia.”

A second term for Joko, the first Indonesian president from outside the Jakarta elite, could further cement the country’s two decades of democratization.

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Police this month have arrested 31 Islamic militants who they say planned to set off bombs during protests against the election result.

RELATED: Focus of Indonesian election is who will be more Islamic »


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