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Indonesia’s president says riots under control after six killed in violence

World News | Published:

The riots were started by supporters of former general Prabowo Subianto who lost in Indonesia’s presidential election last month.

Indonesian police arrest a supporter of the losing presidential candidate in Jakarta

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has said authorities have the situation in Jakarta under control after six people died in riots by supporters of his rival in last month’s presidential election.

The clashes began on Tuesday night when supporters of former general Prabowo Subianto tried to force their way into the offices of the election supervisory agency and have continued since then.

More than two dozen vehicles were burned as rioters took over neighbourhoods in central Jakarta, throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at police who responded with tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets.

Muslim women walk near a burnt car in Jakarta
Vehicles were burnt out during the riots (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

Flanked by the military chief, Mr Widodo said: “I will work together with anyone to advance this country, but I will not tolerate anyone who disrupts the security, democratic processes and unity of our beloved nation.”

Mr Subianto has refused to accept the official results of the April 17 election and instead declared himself the winner.

The Election Commission said Mr Widodo, the first Indonesian president from outside the Jakarta elite, had won 55.5% of the vote, securing the moderate technocrat a second term.

Joko Widodo meets supporters
Joko Widodo meets supporters (Dita Alangkara/AP)

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Mr Subianto, an elite figure from a wealthy family connected to former dictator Suharto, also lost to Mr Widodo in 2014. He has made four unsuccessful bids for the presidency since Suharto was ousted in 1998.

Rudiantara, the communications and information technology minister, said features of social media including Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp will be restricted on a temporary basis to prevent the spread of hoaxes and inflammatory content. He said messaging systems will still work for text and voice messages but photos and videos will be blocked or slowed.

National police chief Tito Karnavian said the people who died in the rioting were hit by gunshots or blunt devices. Authorities are still investigating the death causes and are not ruling out the involvement of third parties acting as provocateurs.

“There are attempts to create martyrs, blaming security officials for building public anger,” he said.

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Riot police outside the Election Supervision Board in Jakarta
Riot police outside the Election Supervision Board in Jakarta (Dita Alangkara/AP)

Police said the rioting in Jakarta was planned and not spontaneous.

Officers found an ambulance filled with stones and some of the dozens of people arrested had envelopes of money, said national police spokesman Muhammad Iqbal. Many of those arrested come from outside Jakarta, he said.

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