Security forces clash with PPP supporters

Crowds turn ugly, burning tyres and pelting police with rocks

SPORADIC clashes broke out in several parts of Jakarta yesterday as security forces battled with supporters of the Muslim-based United Development Party (PPP).

Sources said that thousands of PPP supporters had gathered in the Otista area in east Jakarta and Warung Bunchit in South Jakarta, burning tyres in the middle of the street and pelting police cars with rocks.

A PPP cadre, Mr Jusuf Syakir, told The Straits Times that in the clashes with police in Warong Bunchit, one person had died and two people were injured.

More than 100 anti-riot police fired warning shots into the air and used tear gas to disperse the people after they turned violent and started throwing stones at security forces.

Sources said that clashes also took place in Pondok Pinang, in South Jakarta, and Casablanca, in Central Jakarta, but the situation was not as serious as the other two areas.

“One thing is clear. Many of the people wearing the green T-shirts of the PPP could have been infiltrators. The PPP did not organise any campaigns in Jakarta today,” Mr Syakir said.

The situation was under control as night fell with police cordoning off all four areas.

On Sunday night, Indonesia’s three political parties agreed to stop holding large street rallies in Jakarta in the final stretch of the country’s election campaign.

The statement, signed just after the capital was hit by sporadic clashes between supporters of the ruling Golkar party and the Muslim-based United Development Party (PPP), said campaigning in Jakarta would now be confined to dialogues in small sub-districts.

“We are taking measures to prevent the occurrence of any large-scale unrest in Jakarta,” Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) spokesman Amal Alghozali said yesterday.

Jakarta PPP chief Rusjdi Hamka was quoted by the Antara news agency yesterday as saying that his party had decided to cancel all its campaigns in Jakarta because of “emotions that are running high”.

He denied that the campaign was cancelled because the authorities did not issue a permit.

Mr Hamka said that the PPP was aware that most of its supporters would be unlikely to comply with the agreement by the three parties to hold only dialogues in sub-districts.

“So I call on all security personnel not to let our supporters roam all over the place.”

Meanwhile, an AFP report yesterday said scores of people in South Jakarta were beaten savagely with sticks. Three were hospitalised.

The 27-day campaign, marked by political violence in various Indonesian towns that has left scores injured, will end on Friday. Polling is set for May 29.

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