Yerica Lai, Jakarta – Police set out barbed wire and concrete barricades around the Presidential Palace in Central Jakarta on Saturday in an effort to tighten security after calls for an antigovernment march spread among the public.
Certain roads in the Harmoni area and those leading to the palace were also closed.
More than 3,000 personnel from the Indonesian Military (TNI), the police and the Jakarta administration were deployed to secure other locations in Jakarta, including the National Monument (Monas) and the House of Representatives building in Senayan, according to media reports.
Several people accused of instigating a protest were detained on Saturday at the Jakarta Police headquarters.
"Their roles are still being investigated," said Jakarta Police operational bureau chief Sr. Comr. Marsudianto, as quoted by Tempo.co.
Calls for the public to rally on Saturday against emergency public activity restrictions (PPKM Darurat) had been circulating on social media and WhatsApp groups.
In a widely shared digital flier with "Jokowi Endgame" written on it, the logos of ride-hailing apps Gojek and Grab, student alliances and trade unions were displayed as supposed participants. The flier referred to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.
According to the flier, participants were to march from Glodok to the palace.
"Calling all elements of the public to the street to march against PPKM and destroy the palace oligarchs," the flier read.
The National Police have urged the public to refrain from participating in the demonstration.
"We hope people will avoid crowds, as COVID-19 cases are still high," National Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono said in a statement on Friday.
Speaking at a live-streamed news conference on Saturday, Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD said a "group of people" was trying to exploit the pandemic to take down the government.
"The government is aware that there is a group of people who would like to exploit the situation. [...] They only want to oppose the government, exploit the situation," he said.
He asked the public to stay calm and said the government was taking notes and listening to people's concerns.
"The government understands that there are anxieties and concerns about the uncertainty of the COVID-19 situation," he said. "We will work together with religious and public figures to build solidarity in the fight against COVID-19."
Grab and a community of Gojek drivers, whose logos were displayed on the flier, have denied any involvement in the planned demonstration, according to media reports.