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Indonesia nabs 10 to thwart coup bid against Jokowi

JAKARTA — The Indonesian police on Friday (Dec 2) said they have detained 10 people, including the daughter of the country’s founding president and a retired army general, thwarting a plot to take advantage of a mass demonstration and lead an uprising against President Joko Widodo.

JAKARTA — The Indonesian police on Friday (Dec 2) said they have detained 10 people, including the daughter of the country’s founding president and a retired army general, thwarting a plot to take advantage of a mass demonstration and lead an uprising against President Joko Widodo.

“The suspicion is that, among other things, there was a link to plans to attempt subversion, and to take advantage of conditions today,” Mr Amar said. The spokesman also said the group had planned to seize the parliament building.

“They had another agenda aside from prayers,” he said, referring to demonstrations after Friday prayers against Jakarta’s Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama.

The police did not comment on how extensive or sophisticated the plot was. But Mr Amar said one of the group’s aims was to restore Indonesia’s original Constitution, which provided for the president to be elected by Parliament, rather than via a national poll. 

The detentions followed weeks of tension, during which Mr Widodo said “political actors” had fanned violence at a Nov 4 protest against Mr Purnama and the country’s police chief warned that “certain groups” might try to occupy Parliament during Friday’s rally.

The group had been under surveillance for at least three weeks, and the move against it came hours before the start of a rally in central Jakarta to protest against the city’s governor, a Christian accused of insulting the Quran.

Around 150,000 protesters surged around Jakarta’s National Monument on Friday morning, calling for Mr Purnama to be jailed.

The governor is being investigated over comments about his opponents’ use of the Quran during political campaigning. He denies wrongdoing, but has apologised for the remarks.

Opinion polls have shown him slipping into second place in the race for next year’s re-election as governor, a position Mr Widodo himself used as a stepping-stone to the presidency.

Police spokesperson Rikwanto, who like many Indonesians go by one name, said that 10 people were detained between 3am and 6am. 

Eight were being investigated under the conspiracy and treason provisions of the criminal code, and the other two for hate speech. If convicted of treason, the maximum sentence is to be jailed for life.

“They were planning an evil conspiracy to topple the legitimate government,” he said.

“They are being accused of subversion,” confirmed Mr Yusril Ihza Mahendra, a lawyer for two of the eight. Mr Mahendra was Indonesia’s Minister of Justice and Human Rights from 2001 to 2004. 

He said the group included Ms Rachmawati Sukarnoputri, a politician and sister of former president Megawati Sukarnoputri. Their father, Sukarno, was Indonesia’s first president.

The group also included rock musician Ahmad Dhani and retired army general Kivlan Zen, who had both supported one of Mr Widodo’s rivals for the presidency in 2014, the lawyer said. 

Mr Dhani faced public criticism in 2014, when he appeared wearing a German Nazi-like uniform in a music video while campaigning for his candidate.

In a press conference on Thursday, Ms Rachmawati and Mr Dhani had called on Thursday for protesters to march towards Parliament, according to local media reports.

“These are people who are known to have grudges against anyone in government,” said Jakarta-based political analyst Wimar Witoelar. “These are small, insignificant people, but it’s a big crowd and a small spark could start a large fire.” 

The rally against Jakarta’s governor is not just about religion or communal interests, but involves manoeuvres behind the scenes by certain factions of the political elite, added Hui Yew Foong, a senior fellow and coordinator of the Indonesia Studies Programme at Iseas-Yusof Ishak Institute.

“Although President Joko Widodo is new to the Jakarta political inner circle, he has shown himself to be adept at garnering support from both the common people and the elite. As long as the police and military remain firmly behind him, he will continue to have the upper hand in Indonesia’s political shadowplay,” Dr Hui said. AGENCIES

 

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