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Protesters killed in clashes over elections, soldiers on the street in Jakarta

Prabowo urged for all sides to refrain from violence on Wednesday.

National police chief Tito Karnavian late yesterday confirmed reports that people had died, but urged Indonesians not to immediately conclude that they had been killed by riot police.

In the days leading up to the protest, he said a number of weapons had been found among people planning to protest. He urged Indonesians to “remain calm and not to be provoked”.

Indonesian riot police officers fire a tear gas launcher to disperse supporters of Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto.

Indonesian riot police officers fire a tear gas launcher to disperse supporters of Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto.Credit:AP

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.

An additional 20,000 soldiers were deployed late on Wednesday after the Jakarta governor, Anies Baswedan, revealed in a TV interview that six people had been killed during wild protests in a number of locations in Jakarta late into Tuesday night.

Prabowo’s supporters set fire to the dormitory of the Jakarta police mobile brigade, torched cars and threw stones and molotov cocktails at police. They clashed with police again on Wednesday.

Police limited the use of social media in Indonesia to slow down the posting of videos, pictures and memes relating to the protest, the information ministry said. Measures would stay in place for two or three days to try to calm the situation.

Supporters of Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto carry an injured man during a clash with Indonesian police in Jakarta.

Supporters of Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto carry an injured man during a clash with Indonesian police in Jakarta.Credit:AP

National police spokesman Muhammad Iqbal said the protesters had been paid by unnamed parties. An ambulance belonging to a political party (which he did not name) had been found full of stones near the protesters, along with money in envelopes, he said.

Wiranto, the minister for security affairs was asked who was behind the protests. He did not name any individual but said: “There is a correlation” between the election result and the violence.

The president’s chief of staff, Moeldoko, said, “We know who is behind this, it is a matter of time.”

Iqbal said 58 people who were suspected provocateurs were arrested. At the dormitory of the Jakarta police mobile brigade, protesters set 14 vehicles alight and damaged 11 others. Police arrested 11 and, “we found out they are paid protesters,” Iqbal said.

An Indonesian riot police officer fires a tear gas launcher to disperse supporters of Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto.

An Indonesian riot police officer fires a tear gas launcher to disperse supporters of Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto.Credit:AP

“We said a couple of days ago that there would be third parties who would take advantage of the protest situation, so people should not get provoked.”

He did not name who the provocateurs might be, adding that “We are investigating the people we have arrested”.

Indonesia’s Election Commission declared at midnight on Monday that Joko, known universally as Jokowi, had won a second term with 55.5 per cent of the vote in the April 17 election. The commission brought the announcement forward and held it in the dead of night to try to avoid unrest.

Supporters of Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto at a rally outside the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) building in Jakarta.

Supporters of Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto at a rally outside the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) building in Jakarta.Credit:AP

Prabowo, a former general, refused to accept defeat, saying he was a victim of fraud. There is no evidence of widespread fraud in the election.

His supporters threatened a “people power” protest, but later said they planned to challenge the election in the Constitutional Court.

The government has deployed some 50,000 police and soldiers in Jakarta in anticipation of protests, Jakarta police spokesman Argo Yuwono said. Many residents have left the city and parts of the downtown are closed to traffic.

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In the past week, authorities have arrested three pro-Prabowo activists on suspicion of treason, Prasetyo said, including a retired general and a former commander of Indonesia’s special forces.

Police allege there was a plot to seize crucial government buildings in Jakarta.

Prabowo, a retired general, has pledged he would “continue to make legal efforts in line with the constitution to defend the mandate of the people”.

Sufmi Dasco Ahmad, the legal director of Prabowo’s campaign team, confirmed it 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.

Flanked by riot police, Prabowo’s supporters had earlier gathered mainly at the election supervisory agency (Bawaslu) in the heart of the city’s commercial and government district. There was also a small rally at the KPU in support of the election commission.

But after 9pm, the protests turned violent, with Wiranto saying a different group was responsible. “They were making anarchy, they were criminals,” he said.

Wiranto earlier told a briefing there had been plans for “massive demonstrations to storm the KPU, Bawaslu, Parliament and the state palace”.

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He threatened severe punishment for criminal activity and vowed to maintain security, while denying authorities were being draconian.

Former Kopassus commander and Prabowo’s supporter, Major General (ret) Soenarko has been arrested on charges of treason and weapon smuggling, according to Wiranto.

Video footage circulated a few days ago showing Soenarko talking to a group of people about the siege the election commission office and presidential palace.

In a press conference, Wiranto said Soenarko was also involved in weapons smuggling “for a certain purpose” for “which we don’t know”.

“But it was against the law,” said Wiranto, “That’s why the police are now investigating.”

Prabowo had warned the cheating claims could trigger “people power”-style protests, though ahead of the result he had urged supporters in a video to be “peaceful in our struggle”.

Authorities had earlier detained dozens of militant Islamists suspected of planning attacks on people attending the protests. Police said they had held or interrogated at least three leading opposition figures for suspected treason.

With AP, Reuters

Karuni Rompies is Assistant Indonesia Correspondent for Fairfax Media.

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