6 Nov 2016

Protests against Jakarta governor turn violent

7:04 am on 6 November 2016

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has blamed "political actors" for fanning violence at a mass protest in Jakarta which called for the resignation of the capital's governor.

Islamic demonstrators march in Central Jakarta after a day of protest on November 4, 2016 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Indonesian police fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse hardline Muslim protesters outside the Presidential Palace in Jakarta.

Islamic demonstrators march in Central Jakarta after a day of protest. Police fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse the protesters outside the Presidential Palace. Photo: Dani Daniar / Citizenside / AFP

One person died and more than 100 were injured at the protest on Friday, police said, with Muslim extremists pressing for Christian Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama to step down over accusations he insulted the Koran.

President Widodo also postponed a planned visit to Australia after the protests turned violent.

At a news conference, Mr Widodo said he blamed "political actors" for fanning popular anger over Governor Purnama, who is standing for re-election in February, competing with two Muslim candidates for the job.

The governorship of the capital is a powerful position, held by Mr Widodo before he became president two years ago.

Mr Widodo, a Muslim, has vowed not to interfere in any legal proceedings against Mr Purnama, his ally.

He told the news conference that any legal process involving Mr Purnama would be executed "swiftly, firmly and transparently".

He criticised politicians, who he did not name, for inciting die-hard protesters after most had already gone home.

"We deplore the incident ... [that] should have already disbanded but became violent," he said.

"And, we see this was steered by political actors who were exploiting the situation."

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs