Indonesia police: Stadium exit gates too small for escape of 3,000 people – including politicians.
By Asep Siregar: Reuters |
KUALA LUMPUR, May 2 (Reuters) – Police had to retreat from one of the two exits to an overcrowded stadium as people tried to escape to the street for a mass protest against the May 13 general election, police said on Wednesday.
A woman police officer at the site said that while the three gates in front of the stadium had been fitted with gates, the stadium’s two exits had not.
“The stadium is packed with about 4,000, the number in the queue exceeds 4,000, and one exit is completely blocked by the crowds,” said the police officer.
“Police tried to convince the man blocking the exit for more than an hour. He then made a statement that if the police did not enter the stadium, there would be a protest,” she added, declining to be identified.
Separately, officials said the authorities would close the stadium gate in front of the election rally venue.
Police said on Tuesday they were investigating a report that police attempted to use teargas to quell a crowd of protesters.
President-elect Joko Widodo is trying to rally votes ahead of the Feb. 9 vote, at the end of his first six-year term.
Police were unable to count at least 20,000 people who had come for the rallies after being told by security command in the capital that the stadium had been packed to capacity of about 25,000.
Thousands more were still queuing outside after hours of rain, waiting for the rally venue to open at 7 a.m. (0900 GMT) and get into the stadium.
Widodo’s People’s Alliance coalition said it had requested that both exits to the stadium be re-opened.
Security officials had told the public they were being allowed to enter the stadium to check the voting process, but many were turned away by security as many people had been turned away from the rally venue in the past.
Opposition parties and analysts have said the vote may be delayed because of the risk of violence. (