Tourists are warned to rethink travel plans to Indonesia, including Bali. Riots and clashes between protesters and police take over streets of Jakarta. Political unrest escalated this week in the wake of presidential election result.
Tourists have been warned to rethink travel plans to Indonesia as political unrest in the nation’s capital escalates in the wake of the presidential election result.
Violent riots and clashes between protesters and police have taken over the streets of Jakarta since the election commission announced on Tuesday that President Joko Widodo had beaten former general Prabowo Subianto in the April 17 poll.
Six people have already died in the protests while another 200 have been wounded, according to Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan.
People planning to visit the country to ‘exercise a high degree of caution’ in Indonesia overall, including famous sightseeing Bali.
Those planning to visit Poso Regency in Central Sulawesi and Papua Province have been urged to reconsider their need to travel due to heightened safety and security risks.
‘Indonesian authorities have advised there is an increased risk of violence, including possible acts of terrorism,’ DFAT states on the Smart Traveller website.
Further demonstrations are planned in central Jakarta in the coming days, particularly in the vicinity of the electoral commission office in Menteng, and the Election Supervisory Board in Tanah Abang.
‘Avoid these protest areas. There are also protests planned in regional cities including Makassar and Surabaya,’ the website states.
‘A heavy police presence remains at the protest sites. Police continue to intercept protesters from regional areas.’
The website also warns travellers to avoid protests, demonstrations and rallies, which can escalate into violence without warning.
Several countries have issued travel warnings regarding Indonesia, including Australia, New Zealand, the US and UK.
The riots forced a number of public institutions, including cultural sites and schools to close on Wednesday.
Some of the protesters who arrived in central Jakarta on Wednesday carried wooden poles while others had smeared toothpaste around their eyes to protect themselves from tear gas.
The government had deployed some 50,000 police and soldiers in Jakarta in anticipation of protests, said Jakarta police spokesman Argo Yuwono. Many residents have left the city and parts of the downtown are closed to traffic with the election supervisory agency and election commission barricaded with razor wire.
In the past week, authorities have arrested three pro-Subianto activists on suspicion of treason, said Prasetyo, including a retired general and former commander of Indonesia’s special forces. Police allege there was a plot to seize crucial government buildings in Jakarta.
Subianto and members of his campaign team had said they would mobilize “people power” for days of street protests. The former general has also called on supporters to refrain from violence.
Subianto, who also lost to Widodo in 2014, ran a fear-based campaign, emphasizing what he sees as Indonesia’s weakness and the risk of exploitation by foreign powers or disintegration. He aligned himself with hard-line Muslim groups and won massive majorities in conservative provinces such as Aceh, which follows Shariah law, but was defeated by Widodo in the president’s populous East Java and Central Java strongholds.
Widodo’s campaign highlighted his progress in poverty reduction and improving Indonesia’s inadequate infrastructure with new ports, toll roads, airports and mass rapid transit.
Most protesters appeared to have come from outside Jakarta and police found envelopes containing money on some of the people they searched, National Police spokesman Muhamad Iqbal told reporters.
‘This is not a spontaneous incident, this is something by design. There are indications that the mobs are paid and bent on causing chaos,’ he said.
Prabowo campaign spokesman Dahnil Azar Simanjuntak called on ‘all sides to hold back and not commit violence’.
Widodo won more than 85 million votes of 154 million cast in the world’s third-largest democracy.
However retired general Prabowo has alleged ‘massive cheating and irregularities’.