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Indonesia

Indonesian political tensions simmer on family day out

Group of Widodo supporters subjected to taunts, intimidadtion at public social event in Jakarta

Indonesian political tensions simmer on family day out

A video grab of a Widodo supporter being harassed in central Jakarta on April 29. (YouTube screengrab/Bibir News)

What was supposed to be a family day out almost turned into an ugly confrontation between supporters and opponents of Indonesian President Joko Widodo on April 29.

The incident in central Jakarta raised the prospect of an acrimonious election campaign ahead of presidential polls scheduled to take place next year

A group of Widodo supporters, that included women and children, said they were confronted, mocked and threatened by a rival group at a weekly Car Free Day event in central Jakarta.

Although it was supposed to be a non-political event the president's supporters were wearing pro-Widodo T-shirts.

A video later went viral showing the rival group wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the hashtag #2019GantiPresiden (replace the president in 2019) mocking and intimidating several men and women.

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They waved cash at the pro-Widodo group and accused them of being paid to support the president.

They also also called them cebong a derogatory term meaning "tadpole" which was used to describe Widodo's supporters during the 2014 presidential election. 

One female supporter of Widodo later filed a police complaint.

The Indonesian Solidarity Party, an ally of Widodo, filed a similar complaint.

Eva Kusuma Sundari, a member of the parliament, said intimidation and violence particularly against women and children "cannot be justified."

"It [the incident] sets a bad precedent," she told ucanews.com.

"Police must follow up this case, because it is not right," she said, calling on all political leaders warn their supporters against such acts and denounce any form of intimidation.

Dominican Sister Natalia Sumarni from the bishops' Secretariat for Gender and Women Empowerment, condemned the act of intimidation and said people should stay calm in the run up to the presidential election, which will be held in April 2019.

"Stay calm, never provoke, just listen to what people have to say and cast your vote," she said.

Next year's presidential election looks set to become a repeat of the last poll in 2014.

Prabowo Subianto, chairman of the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), who was defeated in 2014 after claiming the poll was rigged, has declared his intention to run in next year's race.

According to several opinion polls, Subianto trails Widodo by a large margin.

See raw footage of the incident in this video from Bibir News:

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