Police fired tear gas during a clash with protesters in Jakarta, Indonesia on Wednesday 22 May 2019.
Eko Siswono Toyudho | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Six people died in civil unrest that gripped parts of Jakarta on Tuesday night after the election commission confirmed that President Joko Widodo won last month’s election, the governor of the Indonesian capital said.
Protests on Tuesday by supporters of Widodo’s challenger for the presidency, former general Prabowo Subianto, started peacefully but turned violent in the evening, forcing police to fire tear gas to disperse the crowd.
“As per 9 o’clock this morning, there were 200 people hurt being brought to five hospitals,” Governor Anies Baswedan told broadcaster TVOne. “The number of people dead was six.”
He said hospitals were conducting post-mortems to determine the cause of the deaths.
Hundreds of protesters were still locked in a tense stand-off with police in central Jakarta on Wednesday after a night of violence. Television footage showed smoke billowing from behind dozens of protesters in streets of the Tanah Abang district, with some throwing firecrackers and tearing down public fences.
News agency Antara reported that a small number of protesters had attempted to storm a nearby police station and were using tables as barricades.
Several office buildings and embassies in downtown Jakarta were closed on Wednesday, as were train stations in the area.
A separate crowd in front of the election supervisory body threw rocks and firecrackers at police around dawn, and dozens of chanting protesters joined them during the morning.
Hundreds of police in riot gear blocked the usually busy Sarinah intersection to hold back a crowd they said was expected to swell further in the afternoon.
“We will keep going with these protests until he (Widodo) falls,” said Afi Sikumbang, 58, a Prabowo supporter.
The General Election Commission (KPU) on Tuesday confirmed unofficial counts by private pollsters in the April 17 election, which gave Widodo a 55.5% share of votes against 44.5% for Prabowo.
Widodo won more than 85 million votes of a total of 154 million cast in the world’s third-largest democracy, but Prabowo told reporters he believed there had been widespread cheating.
The retired general pledged he would “continue to make legal efforts in line with the constitution to defend the mandate of the people”, with his legal director stating the campaign planned to contest the result in the Constitutional Court.
On Monday, an election supervisory agency dismissed claims of systematic cheating, citing a lack of evidence. Independent observers have said the poll was free and fair.
Widodo was congratulated for winning the election by former president and Democratic Party chairman Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who is part of the coalition backing Prabowo.
The National Mandate Party (PAN), which is also part of the Prabowo coalition, has also acknowledged the results of the election, which are being rejected by Prabowo’s Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra).
Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko told reporters on Wednesday he believed there was “a systematic effort by a certain group, outside of the terrorist group, that is riding on the situation to muddy the situation”, adding that authorities have seized two pistols from people involved in riots.
“We know who is behind this, it is a matter of time,” he said, adding that security was under control.
Police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo told Reuters on Wednesday that Indonesian police had arrested at least 20 people for provoking the riots and were checking on reports of casualties.
He stressed that security officers on the ground, which include military personnel, were not equipped with live bullets.
News website Tirto reported a man died of bullet wounds in Tanah Abang, quoting a doctor at a hospital near the site.
Indonesian authorities say 40,000 police and army personnel are on duty across Jakarta to maintain security.
Australia, the United States, and Britain issued travel advisories warning of an increased risk of violence across Indonesia and advising citizens to stay away from protests.
The Indonesian rupiah fell 0.2% on Wednesday. The main stock index gained as much as 0.3% earlier in the session but gave up its gains to trade 0.2% lower.
France’s Macron and Finland’s Rinne deliver Brexit ultimatum
PARIS, FRANCE – SEPTEMBER 18: French President Emmanuel Macron (R) welcomes Finland’s Prime Minister Antti Rinne prior their meeting at the Elysee Presidential Palace on September 18, 2019 in Paris, France.
Chesnot | Getty Images News | Getty Images
The U.K. has until September 30 to make written proposals to replace the controversial Irish backstop or its relationship with the EU is over, the leaders of France and Finland agreed Wednesday.
The ultimatum comes as frustration grows in EU circles ahead of the October 31 departure date. Several European officials and leaders have argued that they had reached a deal with the previous U.K. government, called the Withdrawal Agreement, and if the current British leadership does not want to leave the bloc under those terms, then it’s up to the U.K. to make new proposals – something that the new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has not yet done.
“If the U.K. wants to discuss alternatives to the existing Brexit agreement then these must be presented before the end of the month,” the Finnish Prime Minister, Antti Rinne, told reporters on Wednesday, according to Sky News.
“If not by then, then it’s over,” Rinne added about the U.K.’s relationship with the other European countries.
His remarks came after a meeting with the French President, Emmanuel Macron – a hard-liner during the Brexit process.
The U.K. government has reportedly sent proposals to the European Commission on Thursday, according to Reuters. A spokesperson for the European Commission, however, said Thursday that the institution received “documents” from the U.K., which will be analyzed Thursday and Friday. The European Commission did not specify what these documents were.
Earlier on Wednesday, the EU’s Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said: “It is not good enough to explain why the (Irish) backstop needs to be removed. We need legally operational solutions in the Withdrawal Agreement to reply precisely to each of these problems.”
The U.K. government, under the leadership of Boris Johnson, is against the Withdrawal Agreement due to one sticking point: the Irish backstop. This is an insurance policy that would essentially prevent a hard border in the area splitting Northern Ireland (part of the U.K.) and the Republic of Ireland (an EU member state). Boris Johnson, and other Brexit supporters, believe this so-called backstop could break up the United Kingdom, given that there would be different sets of rules in Northern Ireland compared to Scotland or England.
The EU keeps arguing that their intention is not to trigger the Irish backstop; rather its aim is to reach a trade deal as soon as possible, but it needs the Irish backstop in the exit deal to protect its single market in the event a deal is not reached.
The U.K. Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has said that a deal is possible at an upcoming European summit on October 17. However, European leaders want to discuss the U.K.’s proposals ahead of that summit and, have hence asked the U.K. to submit these proposals by the end of September.
In an exclusive interview with CNBC Friday, Finland’s Antti Rinne said a no-deal Brexit is likely.
This chance of a no-deal Brexit increases if there are no proposals by the end of the month. Despite the EU’s willingness to reach an agreement on the U.K.’s departure, as well as legislation from the U.K. Parliament against a no-deal Brexit, the lack of an agreement means a no-deal Brexit is likely.
The only ways to prevent a no-deal Brexit on October 31 are: if there is an agreement between the U.K. government and the EU that is then approved by the U.K. parliament; or if the U.K. requests another extension and the other 27 European countries approve that request.
OECD cuts growth outlook to post-crisis low
The trade war between the United States and China has plunged global growth to its lowest levels in a decade, the OECD said on Thursday as it slashed its forecasts.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said that the global economy risked entering a new, lasting low-growth phase if governments continued to dither over how to respond.
The global economy will see its weakest growth since the 2008-2009 financial crisis this year, slowing from 3.6% last year to 2.9% this year before a predicted 3.0% in 2020, the OECD said.
The Paris-based policy forum said the outlook had taken a turn for the worse since it last updated its forecasts in May, when it estimated the global economy would grow 3.2% this year and 3.4% in 2020.
“What looked like temporary trade tensions are turning into a long-lasting new state of trade relationships,” OECD chief economist Laurence Boone told Reuters.
“The global order that regulated trade is gone and we are in a new era of less certain, more bilateral and sometimes assertive trade relations,” she added.
Trade growth, which had been the motor of the global recovery after the financial crisis had fallen from 5% in 2017 into negative territory now, Boone said.
Meanwhile, trade tensions have weighed on business confidence, knocking investment growth down from 4% two years ago to only 1%.
Boone said that there was evidence that the trade standoff was taking its toll on the U.S. economy, hitting some manufactured products and triggering farm bankruptcies.
The world’s biggest economy would grow 2.4% this year and 2.0% next year instead of the 2.8% and 2.3% respectively that the OECD had forecast in May.
Global Economy Screen with world map and man
Stephen Morton | Bloomberg | Getty Images
China would also feel the pain with the second-biggest economy growing 6.1% in 2019 and 5.7% in 2020, outlooks the OECD cut from 6.2% and 6.0% previously.
The OECD estimated that a sustained decline in Chinese domestic demand of about 2 percentage points annually could trigger a significant knock-on effect on the global economy.
If accompanied with a deterioration in financial conditions and more uncertainty, such a scenario would mean global growth would be cut by 0.7 percentage points per year in the first two years of the shock.
Meanwhile, uncertainty over government policies was also hitting the outlook for Britain as it lurches towards leaving the European Union.
The OECD forecast British growth of 1% in 2019 and 0.9% in 2020, but only if it left the EU smoothly with a transition period, a far from certain conclusion at this stage. The OECD had forecast in May growth of 1.2% and 1.0%.
If Britain leaves without a deal, its economy will be 2% lower than otherwise in 2020-2021 even if its exit is relatively smooth with fully operational infrastructure in place, the OECD said.
The euro area would not be spared from negative spillovers under such a scenario and would see its gross domestic product cut by half a percentage point over 2020-2021.
The OECD trimmed its forecast for the shared currency block, largely due to the slowdown in its biggest economy, Germany, which was estimated to be in a technical recession.
Euro zone growth was seen at 1.0% – down from 1.2% in May – this year and 1.0% in 2020 – down from 1.4% in May.
Boone said Germany’s economy had probably shrunk in the second and third quarters with a slump in car manufacturing, which accounts for 4.7% of German GDP, knocking three-fourths of a percentage point off German growth.
Netanyahu urges rival Gantz to form unity government
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech to supporters of his Likud party after polls closed in the Israeli parliamentary elections.
Ilia Yefimovich | picture alliance | Getty Images
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Thursday on his main rival, former general Benny Gantz, to join him in a broad, governing coalition after Israel’s election ended with no clear winner.
A spokeswoman for Gantz, leader of the centrist Blue and White party, had no immediate response to the surprise offer from Netanyahu, head of the right-wing Likud party.
The change of strategy reflected Netanyahu’s weakened position after he failed again in Tuesday’s election, which followed an inconclusive ballot in April, to secure a parliamentary majority.
“During the election campaign, I called for the establishment of a right-wing government but to my regret, the election results show that this is impossible,” Netanyahu said.
“Benny, we must set up a broad unity government, as soon as today. The nation expects us, both of us, to demonstrate responsibility and that we pursue cooperation.”
On Wednesday, Gantz said he hoped for a “good, desirable unity government”. But he has also ruled out forming one with a Netanyahu-led Likud, citing looming corruption charges against the prime minister. Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing.
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