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.


UK to deploy military to prevent migrant Channel crossings

The Royal Navy has been deployed as recently as January 2019 in an attempt to reduce the number of refugees and migrants arriving to the UK via the English Channel. (Reuters)
Updated 10 August 2020

UK to deploy military to prevent migrant Channel crossings

  • French parliamentarian called the plans a “political measure” that would not help the situation.
  • Roughly 4,000 people have made the dangerous trip from France to the UK so far this year.

LONDON: The UK has announced it will use the military to prevent migrants entering the country from France via the English Channel, but the plans have drawn criticism from French politicians and rights groups in the UK.

More than 4,000 people have successfully made the crossing so far this year, and many of those have done so in small and overburdened boats.

Responding to the escalating number of people attempting the journey, the Home Office officially requested last week that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) assist the Border Force in its duties.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said her department was “working to make this route unviable” and announced on Sunday the appointment of a former Royal Marine to manage the government’s response to the crossings.

In response to Patel’s request, the MoD announced on Monday that it would send a Royal Air Force plane with spotters on board to assist the Border Force in its operations in the English Channel.

But the issue has caused tension between the UK and France.

The French National Assembly member for Calais, Pierre-Henri Dumont, slammed the decision to use the military to prevent crossings as a useless “political measure.”

He said: “What is the British navy going to do if it sees a small boat? Is it going to shoot the boat? Is it going to enter French waters? It’s a political measure to show some kind of muscle but technically speaking it won’t change anything.”

Paris has also requested that London provides £30 million to fund French efforts to prevent migrants from attempting the dangerous crossing from their side.

Patel’s decision to use the military to prevent Channel crossings has also drawn condemnation from human rights groups.

Bella Sankey, a barrister and director of Detention Action said: “The home secretary’s hysterical plea to the navy is as irresponsible as it is ironic. Pushbacks at sea are unlawful and would threaten human lives.

“No civilised country can even consider this, let alone a country with a tradition of offering sanctuary to those fleeing persecution,” she added.

Migration has long been a hot button issue in British politics, and this will not be the first time authorities have used the military to enforce migration policies.

In January 2019, the Royal Navy sent three ships to the Channel to prevent migrant crossings, saying at the time that the deployment would “help prevent migrants from making the dangerous journey.”