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Protests on SBY anniversary

Police blocks anti-government demonstrators outside the presidential palace in Jakarta. -- PHOTO: AFP

October 20, 2010 JAKARTA (KATAKAMI / THE STRAITS TIMES / AFP) —   THOUSANDS of protesters took to the streets in Indonesia on Wednesday to mark the first anniversary of the swearing in of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Anti-government rallies were staged in Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya, Palu and Bogor, where students reportedly clashed with police. Almost 20,000 police were on standby in the capital to deal with unrest, the Antara state news agency reported, but there were no reports of violence in the city.

About 300 protesters gathered in front of the presidential palace in Jakarta, shouting ‘SBY has failed, SBY has failed’. ‘He has failed to eradicate corruption,’ said Rudi Daman of a group called the People’s Defender Front.

A policeman fires tear gas over anti-government protestors during clashes near the presidential palace. -- PHOTO: AFP

Another protester, Yati Andriyani of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence, said Dr Yudhoyono had not honoured promises to protect human rights in the mainly Muslim country of 240 million people. ‘They were only empty promises,’ she said.

Demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails at police who responded with tear gas in Makassar, South Sulawesi province, on Tuesday as Dr Yudhoyono visited the town.

 

A group of protesters burns tyres and block a road during a rally in Jakarta. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

The president, a centrist ex-general, warned protesters to express dissent within the limits of the law and not to try to overthrow the government, a loose coalition of nationalist secular and Islamic parties.

‘The democracy we all want is not one leading to a sea of slander and anarchy, which can damage the things that we have built,’ Dr Yudhoyono told Elshinta radio. ‘As a country, the world will see whether a nation’s democracy is ethical and civilised or not.’ —

 

AFP

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