05/23/2019, 12.05
INDONESIA
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Jakarta, calm follows a second night of violence

by Mathias Hariyadi

President Widodo promises "zero tolerance" towards the rioters. Hundreds of people have been arrested throughout the capital. The authorities impose restrictions on social media, to prevent the spread of fake news. The bishops: "Concerned about the lack of national unity".

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - This morning calm returned to the streets of central Jakarta, after a second night of clashes between security forces and those disputing the outcome of last month's elections, which handed the Indonesian president Joko Widodo the second mandate. Widodo opens to dialogue "with anyone who wants to contribute to the progress of the nation" and promises "zero tolerance" to those who threaten its democracy.

The defeated candidate, Prabowo Subianto, invites his supporters to return to their homes to rest, after urging them to "avoid physical violence". The Indonesian bishops declare themselves "worried by the lack of national unity", condemn the unrest and call for respect for the Constitution and the law. Meanwhile, the authorities have placed temporary restrictions on social media platforms, to prevent the spread of fake news and content that incites hatred.

Protesters gathered at the headquarters of the Electoral Control Agency (Bawaslu) began to disperse in the early hours of the day. Some of them withdrew to the Petamburan neighborhood, the operating base of the Islamic Defender Front (FPI) movement.

Even the gatherings in other areas of the capital have been dispersed. Hundreds of people were arrested throughout Jakarta, including some 72 who took part in the riot at the Bawaslu headquarters, 156 at the Petamburan clashes and 29 at a revolt at Gambir.

Many of the protesters appear to have come from outside Jakarta (provinces of Banten, Central Java and West Java) and the police found envelopes containing money on some of the people searched. National Police spokesman, Insp. January Muhamad said yesterday that "the incidents are premeditated and the protesters received money to create chaos".

A few hours after Iqbal's statements, President Widodo convened a press conference at the State Palace in the presence of military leaders (photo 2). Among these were the Air Force Chief, Hadi Tjahjanto, commander-in-chief of the Indonesian armed forces (Tni), and Gen. Tito Karnavian, chief of police. "I will not tolerate any attempt to hinder public security, the democratic process or the unity of our country," said Widodo.

General Wiranto announced that the authorities have already identified the provocateurs and "the real actors" behind the violence. Although they already have some evidence, investigators still need legal bases to bring them to justice.

This morning, the Indonesian bishops have issued a declaration on the violence of recent days. The document is signed by Msgr. Vincentius Sensi Potokota and Fr. Paulus Christian Siswantoko, president and executive secretary of Komisi Kerawam - the Commission for the Laity of the Bishops' Conference (Kwi). "We are very worried - reads the note - by the fact that we have not been united as a nation, not even in front of the announcement of the General Electoral Commission (Komisi Pemilihan Umum - Kpu) on the official results [of the elections]. We very much appreciate both the Kpu and Bawaslu, for the commitment of their officials in order to facilitate the voting operations. We firmly condemn every act of violence and anarchy, this is not an appropriate way for us to express divergences and contrary opinions: they only tarnish our democratic process. We show respect for our Constitution and our laws, as this legal system guarantees our demands for justice. We also hope that political and religious leaders will demonstrate their important role as promoters of cohesion and become guardians of ethics and social life ".

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