Indonesia tightens security ahead of presidential race result

Unofficial counts by private pollsters show incumbent President Joko Widodo winning the election over ex-general Prabowo Subianto. (AFP)
Updated 15 May 2019

Indonesia tightens security ahead of presidential race result

  • Nearly 32,000 police and military personnel are on standby in the capital Jakarta to safeguard the event
  • Announcement to confirm unofficial counts that shows incumbent President Joko Widodo winning the race

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s counter-terrorism squad has rounded up at least 10 people suspected of planning attacks during next week’s announcement of the results of April’s hotly contested presidential election, police said on Wednesday.
The arrests come as tension runs high and security is tightened in the world’s third-largest democracy ahead of the May 22 announcement by the General Election Commission (KPU).
It is expected to confirm unofficial counts by private pollsters that showed incumbent President Joko Widodo winning the race over ex-general Prabowo Subianto last month.
Nearly 32,000 police and military personnel are on standby in the capital Jakarta, including troops drafted in from other provinces, to safeguard the event, national police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said.
“Through interrogation we found the suspects planned to attack mass gatherings on May 21, 22 or 23,” Prasetyo said, referring to demonstrations planned for next week.
“Their aim is to create chaos and target as many victims as possible, including police.”
The suspects belonged to Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), the largest Daesh-linked group in the country, and authorities were on the hunt for more members, he added.
Last week authorities shot dead one Islamist militant and detained six for plotting to attack police during the planned demonstrations.
Prabowo has refused to concede and his team has made accusations of “massive cheating and irregularities” in the voting and vote-counting process.
“We have won the mandate of the people,” the former special forces commander told hundreds of supporters at a campaign event on Tuesday.
“If we give up, that means we are giving in to unfairness, and that means we are betraying our own country and our people.”
His team has threatened to resort to “people power”-style street protests, although it has pledged they will be peaceful.
With more than 80 percent of ballots counted, Widodo is leading by 12 percentage points, with 56 percent of the vote, the election commission says.


Russia launches floating nuclear reactor in Arctic despite warnings

Updated 13 min 16 sec ago

Russia launches floating nuclear reactor in Arctic despite warnings

MOSCOW: Russia will launch the world’s first floating nuclear reactor and send it on an epic journey across the Arctic on Friday, despite environmentalists warning of serious risks to the region.
Loaded with nuclear fuel, the Akademik Lomonosov will leave the Arctic port of Murmansk to begin its 5,000 kilometer (3,000-mile) voyage to northeastern Siberia.
Nuclear agency Rosatom says the reactor is a simpler alternative to building a conventional plant on ground that is frozen all year round, and it intends to sell such reactors abroad.
But environmental groups have long warned of the dangers of the project, dubbing it a potential “Chernobyl on ice” and a “nuclear Titanic.”
A deadly explosion this month at a military testing site in Russia’s far north, causing a radioactive surge, has prompted further concerns.
The reactor’s trip is expected to last between four and six weeks, depending on the weather conditions and the amount of ice on the way.
Work began on the 144-meter (472-foot) Akademik Lomonosov in Saint Petersburg in 2006.

An employee looks on inside machinery compartment at floating nuclear power plant Akademik Lomonosov on August 22, 2019. (REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov)


When it arrives in Pevek, a town of 5,000 in the Siberian region of Chukotka, it will replace a local nuclear plant and a closed coal plant.
It is due to go into operation by the end of year, mainly serving the region’s oil platforms as Russia develops the exploitation of hydrocarbons in the Arctic.
Rashid Alimov, the head of the energy sector of Greenpeace Russia, said environmental groups had been critical of the idea of a floating reactor since the 1990s.
“Any nuclear power plant produces radioactive waste and can have an accident, but Akademik Lomonosov is additionally vulnerable to storms,” he told AFP.
The float is towed by other vessels, making a collision during a storm more likely, he said.
Because Rosatom plans to store spent fuel onboard, Alimov said “any accident involving this fuel might have a serious impact on the fragile environment of the Arctic.”
He added that there is “no infrastructure for a nuclear clean up” in the region.

Rosenergoatom employees work in master control room of the floating nuclear power plant Akademik Lomonosov on August 22, 2019. (REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov)

Global warming and melting ice has made the Northeast Passage — which connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific along Russia’s northern coast — more accessible.
When AFP visited the Akademik Lomonosov in May 2018, it was a shabby brown color. It has since been repainted in the red, white and blue of the Russian flag.
The vessel weighs 21,000 tons and has two reactors with a capacity of 35 megawatts each, close to that of those used by nuclear icebreakers.
It has a crew of 69 and travels at a speed of 3.5 to 4.5 knots.
Alimov said the project was a missed opportunity as Chukotka, a region larger than Texas populated by only 50,000 people, “has a huge potential for the development of wind energy.”
“A floating nuclear power plant is a too risky and too expensive way of producing electricity,” he said.
The nuclear industry, seeking to reinvent itself in a gloomy market, is developing smaller, cheaper reactors to attract new customers.
They follow the examples of submarines, icebreakers and aircraft carriers, which have long used nuclear power, and are intended for isolated areas with little infrastructure.