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Wed, 22 May 2019 13:15 - Updated Wed, 22 May 2019 13:15

Six die, protests swell as Indonesia plunges into post-election unrest

JAKARTA- Demonstrations over the outcome of last month’s presidential election gripped the heart of Indonesia’s capital on Wednesday after an overnight face-off between police and protesters in which Jakarta’s governor said six people were killed.

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The riots followed an announcement on Tuesday by the General Election Commission (KPU) confirming that President Joko Widodo had beaten his challenger, former general Prabowo Subianto, in the April 17 poll.

Crowds swelled in central Jakarta on Wednesday and police said they expected more protesters to join them before nightfall. Some of those arriving carried wooden poles and some had smeared toothpaste around their eyes, a practice commonly carried out to eliminate the effects of tear gas.

Protests that began calmly in the sprawling textile market neighborhood of Tanah Abang on Tuesday turned violent after nightfall, with police firing tear gas to disperse the crowd.

Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan told TVOne that by the morning six people had been killed and 200 wounded.

Television footage showed smoke billowing from behind dozens of protesters in the streets of Tanah Abang on Wednesday, with some throwing firecrackers and tearing down public fences.

President Widodo said security was now under control and warned of tough action against those instigating riots.

“I will not tolerate anyone disrupting the security... or unity of the country, or those who disrupt the democratic process,” he told a briefing at the palace.

Police have arrested up to 100 people on suspicion of provoking riots.

Widodo’s challenger, Prabowo, who has refused to concede defeat, called for peaceful protests and crowd control.

“I urge all sides, the people who are expressing their aspirations, the police, the military and all sides to refrain from physical abuse,” he told a briefing.

The majority of 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 a news conference.

“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,REUTERS.

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