The Jakarta Post
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo broke his silence after midnight Saturday after the unruly protest in front of the Presidential Palace and called on the public to remain calm and keep their surrounding conducive.
“We respect the people’s aspiration by staging the mass rally. We thank the ulemas for keeping the rally in order and peaceful until the dusk,” the president said.
“However, I really regretted the unruly situation later in the evening because the public who were supposed to disperse themselves turned violent.”
“Political actors are taking advantage of the situation,” he added.
Jokowi started the limited Cabinet meeting at 11.20 p.m. because the presidential security detail banned him from returning to the palace. The meeting was attended by Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto, State Secretary Pratikno, Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung, Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim, Communication and Information Minister Rudiantara, Presidential chief of staff Teten Masduki, National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian and Indonesian Military chief Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo.
The president also called on the public to return home safely and peacefully and let the authorities to solve the case.
“Please go home and not easily being provoked,” he said. “Pak JK [Vice President Jusuf Kalla] has met with representatives of the protesters and guaranteed that the legal process would be done immediately.”
(Read also: Q&A: How did the anti-Ahok rally turn chaotic?)
Around 100,000 protesters demanded the prosecution of Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama for alleged blasphemy. Kalla said that the legal process against Ahok would be finished in two weeks.
Jokowi also appreciated security personnel hard works in keeping the rally to be peaceful. The rally turned violent after the protesters refused to disperse themselves although the time for rally had ended. The police gave the permit to stage the protest until 6 p.m.
The disappointed protesters started throwing stones, bottles and mineral water at police officers after the deadline and tried to break the police barricade and enter the State Palace.
Police shot the tear gas after several protesters set off firecrackers, ignoring the police’s call for them to leave the area near the state place. Meanwhile, other police officers prevented protesters from other areas from heading to the State Palace.
A least two police trucks were burned by the protesters during the chaos, while some injured people were taken away by ambulance. A number of protesters and police officers were reportedly wounded after a brawl.
(Read also: Jakarta cools off after violent rally)
The mass began to move to the House of Representatives compound, which had been heavily guarded, as the House deputy speaker Fadli Zon publicly welcomed them to spend the night in the area, saying it was “the house of the people.”
Meanwhile, unidentified groups of protesters started to vandalize a minimarket and motorcycles in Penjaringan, North Jakarta, in the area next to the residence of embattled Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama at around 6 p.m. The security had the condition under control before midnight. (yan)
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