On April 17, a presidential election was held in Indonesia, where Joko Widodo won with 55.5% of the vote. His only opponent, Prabowo Subianto, gained 44.5%. When the CEC announced voting returns, the HQ of the losing candidate declared their disagreement with the results, giving start to riots in Jakarta, reports detik.com news portal.
Supporters of the incumbent President and members of the opposition clashed in the streets with the police and the military that kept public order in the city. Two-night actions resulted in 6 people killed and over 200 injured. Tito Karnavian, Chief of the Indonesian National Police, reported that some of them died from firearms, and some – from blunt force injuries. Karnavian held a press conference on the occasion, where he demonstrated the firearms confiscated from demonstrators, including an M-4 rifle equipped with a silencer and scope sight.
According to him, the organizers of riots were going to stage several severe provocations with use of these weapons, in order to turn people against the current government, the military and the police. 257 people were detained in Indonesian actions; they are suspected of organizing and participating in the riots. At the same time, Karnavian emphasized that neither the police nor the military were armed with live bullets, only riot control weapons (tear gas and water cannons) were used to calm the demonstrators. By the morning, the situation in Jakarta has stabilized, but for the security purposes, the military blocked the central streets, including those adjacent to the office building, where the main clashes took place.
Later, National Police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said that supporters of presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto attacked the police with rocks, Molotov cocktails, firecrackers, bladed weapons and firearms, which were collected in advance and kept in cars parked in different parts of the city. This once again confirms the fact that the riots were pre-arranged.
President Joko Widodo commented: “The security forces will take all necessary measures against those who caused the unrest. The armed forces and the police will act in accordance with the law. The government will not tolerate those who disrupt security, the process of democracy and the unity of our beloved country.”
This election got an exceptional attention from the population of Indonesia – the turnout was above 80% and some media called this one-day vote the world’s largest. Over 50 staff people involved in its organization died from overworking. The ballot boxes were often carried to the stations by couriers via the hardly accessible virgin forest. With a population of 260 million people, the task of organizing a transparent electoral process appeared back-breaking. Due to objective reasons, there was no possibilities to prevent all violations under such conditions; therefore, supporters of the opposition easily believed in the evil intent and falsification of the election results. The country authorities need to take a thorough investigation of the election results and collect claims from certain polling stations, where the voting results could be cancelled or revised. A constructive dialogue with the opposition would reduce the degree of tension, which will continue to rise in the nearest future.