Six people died in civil unrest that gripped parts of Jakarta on Tuesday, May 21st, the night after the election commission confirmed that President Joko Widodo won last month’s election, the governor of the Indonesian capital said.
Protests on Tuesday by supporters of Widodo’s challenger for the presidency, former general Prabowo Subianto, started peacefully but turned violent in the evening, forcing police to fire tear gas to disperse the crowd, according to Reuters.
Governor Anies Baswedan said, “As per 9 o’clock this morning, there were 200 people hurt being brought to five hospitals. The number of people dead was six,” according to TVOne broadcaster.
Baswedan added that hospitals were conducting post-mortems to determine the cause of the deaths.
Hundreds of protesters were still locked in a tense stand-off with police in central Jakarta on Wednesday, May 22nd, after a night of violence. Television footage showed smoke billowing from behind dozens of protesters in the streets of the Tanah Abang district, with some throwing firecrackers and tearing down public fences.
According to News agency Antara, a small number of protesters had attempted to storm a nearby police station and were using tables as barricades. Several office buildings and embassies in downtown Jakarta were closed on Wednesday, as were train stations in the area.
Furthermore, a separate crowd in front of the election supervisory body threw rocks and firecrackers at police around dawn, and dozens of chanting protesters joined them during the morning.
Hundreds of police in riot gear blocked the usually busy Sarinah intersection to hold back a crowd they said was expected to swell further in the afternoon.
The General Election Commission (KPU) on Tuesday confirmed unofficial counts by private pollsters in the April 17th election, which gave Widodo a 55.5% share of votes against 44.5% Prabowo.
Widodo won more than 85 million votes of a total of 154 million cast in the world’s third-largest democracy, but Prabowo stated that he believed there had been widespread cheating.
The retired general pledged he would “continue to make legal efforts in line with the constitution to defend the mandate of the people”, with his legal director stating the campaign planned to contest the result in the Constitutional Court.
On Monday, an election supervisory agency dismissed claims of systematic cheating, citing a lack of evidence. Independent observers have said the poll was free and fair.
Widodo was congratulated for winning the election by former president and Democratic Party chairman Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who is part of the coalition backing Prabowo.
The National Mandate Party (PAN), which is also part of the Prabowo coalition, has also acknowledged the results of the election, which are being rejected by Prabowo’s Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra).
On the other hand, Police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said on Wednesday that Indonesian police had arrested at least 20 people for provoking the riots and were checking on reports of casualties.
Prasetyo stressed that security officers on the ground, which include military personnel, were not equipped with live bullets.
Indonesian authorities say 40,000 police and army personnel are on duty across Jakarta to maintain security.