POLITICS

Indonesian President Joko Widodo Postpones Australia Visit After Jakarta Protests

The planned visit is to be rescheduled for a later date.

05/11/2016 4:18 PM AEDT | Updated 05/11/2016 4:35 PM AEDT
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Beawiharta Beawiharta / Reuters
Indonesian President Joko Widodo has postponed a scheduled visit to Australia following violence in Jakarta.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has postponed his scheduled visit to Australia this weekend at the last minute after violent protests erupted in Jakarta on Friday during a rally demanding the arrest of a Christian governor on the basis of insulting Islam.

Widodo was expected to land in Australia on Sunday for a planned three-day visit of Sydney and Canberra with a joint sitting of Federal Parliament to have been the highlight of the trip.

A statement from the Indonesian Foreign Ministry stated that President Jokowi, as he is more popularly known, would have to stay in Indonesia to address the developments following the protests in which one person was killed and at least seven injured.

"It is with the deepest regret that the visit of President Jokowi ... has now been postponed," the statement read, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

"The President has also tasked the Indonesian Foreign Minister to discuss with her Australian counterpart new dates for the visit in the near future."

The president called Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull directly to inform him of the security situation in Jakarta and send his apologies for the postponement.

In a statement released on Saturday, Turnbull said he was sorry the planned visit would need to be rescheduled but that Australia understands Widodo's need to remain in Indonesia.

"President Widodo thanked me for Australia's understanding and noted his desire to conduct the visit as soon as mutually convenient dates can be identified," he said.

"While disappointing, we agreed the postponement will not affect the need for continued and enhanced cooperation across a range of shared interests and challenges, including the threat of terrorism to our region."

Following the protests, Jakarta police stated they would secure 26 sites across the city with 18,000 police and military personnel to be deployed throughout the capital.

The protesters were demanding Jakarta's Christian Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known as Ahok, to be jailed for allegedly blasphemous comments he made about the Koran.

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