National Police say ‘no potential’ for riots when official election results are announced on May 22

Indonesian protesters (R), mainly supporters of presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, stage a demonstration against alleged voting fraud in the recent Indonesian election in Jakarta on May 10, 2019. – Firebrand ex-general Prabowo Subianto has rejected a dozen so-called quick counts that say Indonesian president Joko Widodo was re-elected by a comfortable margin. (Photo by GOH CHAI HIN / AFP)

Anyone who’s been sucked in the black hole of misinformation that is Indonesian social media lately may be convinced that there is a serious risk of large scale riots erupting when the General Election Commission (KPU) announces the final results of the April 17 elections, which is scheduled to take place on May 22.

But the National Police say there’s no cause for concern as they will have everything under control on that decisive day.

“In terms of the potential for riots, based on our intelligence gathering, there will be none. There’s no indication of it,” National Police Spokesperson Dedi Prasetyo told reporters yesterday, as quoted by Liputan 6.

Dedi went on to dismiss rumors about potential chaos on May 22, saying they have been caused by the spread of misinformation on social media and there have been no signs that they will manifest into real riots.

“We are taking down and blocking all accounts that spread hoaxes and provoke others,” he said.

Some of the misinformation that we have observed so far — mostly via Whatsapp groups that Coconuts Jakarta writers belong to — include warnings that there will be large scale riots, comparable to those that took place in May 1998, led by the opposition to reject the outcome of the presidential election.

Based on quick count results and the ongoing real count tabulation of votes, President Joko Widodo has all but officially secured his reelection victory over challenger Prabowo Subianto. As of this morning, Jokowi leads Prabowo 56.23% to 43.77%, based on the 82% of all votes that have already been tallied by the KPU.

Prabowo’s allies within the opposition have played their part in stoking fears of rioting, particularly his senior adviser Amien Rais, who popularized the term “people power,” which refers to grassroots streets protests that will supposedly erupt against the government for their alleged election fraud against Prabowo.

But such talk has been, so far, just talk. Only a few hundred protesters actually showed up during “people power” protests that took place on Thursday and Friday of last week. Amien Rais, as well as other senior opposition politicians like Eggi Sudjana, has been accused of treason for provoking their supporters into unrest in an attempt to unseat the government. Eggi was arrested by police yesterday on treason charges.

Despite their assurances that there will be no riots, the National Police say they are deploying 30,000 personnel in Jakarta to keep the capital secure on May 22.

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