The Jakarta Post
The National Police announced on Monday the removal of Brig. Gen. Haka Astana Mantika Widya from his position as Yogyakarta Police chief after a string of violent incidents have plagued the province.
Haka, who will assume the role of the National Police chief's expert staff member for management issues, will be replaced by South Sumatra Police deputy chief Brig. Gen. Oerip Soebagyo.
While the police declined to provide reasons for the removal, the province has seen a surge in the past two weeks of violence related to the presidential election and religious intolerance.
On June 24, supporters of presidential candidates Prabowo Subianto and Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo clashed on Jl. Ngabean, Yogyakarta.
The rival supporters had been on their way home from attending separate campaign events when they came across each other. Taunts were exchanged that ignited a brawl, which left several injured. The crowd also vandalized nearby buildings and motor vehicles.
National Police spokesperson Brig. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar said on Monday that Haka's transfer had nothing to do with the recent violent incidents that had marred the province.
'Due to his new position, he [Haka] will soon be promoted to two-star general [inspector general],' Boy said.
The Yogyakarta Police has received public criticism, including from Yogyakarta Governor Hamengkubuwono, for its lackluster performance in preventing and investigating violent incidents.
The election-related violence may have been the last straw for Haka's position after his failure to respond adequately to increasing sectarian conflict that has angered the public.
On May 30, at least 15 local residents attacked a group of Catholics praying at a house in Ngaglik, Sleman.
On the following day, local residents and Muslim groups vandalized a Pentecostal church in Sleman, claiming the absence of a building permit.
Police officers arriving on the scene were powerless to stop the violence.
National Police Commission (Kompolnas) member Adrianus Meliala said that the Yogyakarta Police under Haka's leadership had not yet introduced effective measures to prevent violence in the province.
'Around 14 violent incidents in Yogyakarta occurred during Haka's leadership. During my meeting with him last week, he claimed to have made progress in 10 cases but he has not made this public. As a result, the public perceive that the police have done nothing,' Adrianus said.
Adrianus noted that the negative perception of the Yogyakarta Police had also undermined the police's efforts to build trust, communication and a strong relationship with the public.
'There is a growing distrust between the police and the public there,' he said.
In response to the criticism, Boy reiterated that the police were not the sole party responsible for maintaining peace in the province.
'The security problems in Yogyakarta are not only the concern of the police, but also of its citizens. The citizens must be able to live peacefully side by side and put their differences aside,' he said.
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