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Indonesia steps up security, bans protests ahead of inauguration

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JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia will deploy more than 30,000 police and military personnel to ensure security for Sunday’s inauguration of President Joko Widodo and will not allow demonstrations over the period, police said on Tuesday.

Security has been stepped since the chief security minister, Wiranto, was stabbed by a suspected Islamist militant last week during a visit to a provincial town. He is recovering in hospital.

The Southeast Asian country, which has the world’s biggest Muslim population, has also seen anti-government rallies, led by students, in recent weeks in Jakarta and other cities in opposition to new laws that have turned violent at times.

Argo Yuwono, a spokesman for Jakarta’s police, said the decision not to issue permits for rallies was intended “to maintain the dignity of the state”, particularly given the inauguration would be attended by foreign leaders.

Since the attempt on Wiranto’s life, authorities have raised security for officials. Police said on Monday they had arrested 22 suspected militants in various places as part of a preventive strike by the counter-terrorism unit.

Separately, national police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said police had arrested two members of the Islamic State-linked militant group Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) who were plotting suicide bombings in the cities of Solo and Yogyakarta.

He said the plot was not linked to the inauguration.

Prasetyo said 31,000 military and police would guard the inauguration of Widodo, who won a second term in an April election, with leaders from neighbouring countries such as Australia and Malaysia expected to attend.

Indonesia scrambled to tighten its anti-terrorism laws after a series of suicide bombings linked to the JAD group killed more than 30 people in the city of Surabaya last year.

(Reporting by Agustinus Beo Da Costa; Writing by Stanley Widianto; Editing by Ed Davies, Robert Birsel)

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