President Joko Widodo will have to reschedule his visit to Australia after the anti-Ahok rally, but insists that the situation in the capital city is under control.
On November 7, Widodo was supposed to make his presidential visit to Australia. But after witnessing the chaotic scene of the Jakarta riots, which broke out over the weekend, the president decided to postpone his trip and focus on the nation’s political stability instead.
In a statement released by the Foreign Ministry on Saturday, the president asked his team to rearrange the dates. He previously planned to visit Sydney and Canberra for three days. “Current developments require the President to stay in Indonesia,” the ministry affirmed.
Widodo made a phone call to Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to personally deliver the message. Responding to the matter, the prime minister admitted that he was sorry for the deferral, yet could indeed understand why Indonesia needs its president at the moment.
Regardless, he hopes that both Indonesia and Australia will still be able to stick to their main agenda once Widodo makes his visit. “While disappointing, we agreed the postponement will not affect the need for continued and enhanced cooperation across a range of shared interests and challenges, including the threat of terrorism to our region,” the prime minister said as quoted by ABC.
The November 4 riots were perpetrated in large part by the Islamic Defenders Front, a local hardline group that demanded the arrest of Jakarta Governor Ahok after he was accused of blasphemy while campaigning in Thousand Islands.
Following the riots, Widodo gave a speech on Saturday to appreciate the protesters who managed to keep the rally in order. However, the president later blamed ‘political actors who were taking advantage’ of the situation that later turned chaotic.
The protesters went out of control after nightfall on November 4, as police were firing tear gas and water cannons to put things back in order. The riots killed one and left seven injured.