JAKARTA - Indonesian president Joko Widodo urged the national police and the country's most powerful anti-graft agency to avoid "friction" after the arrest of a prominent corruption fighter sparked an outcry on Friday.
The shock arrest of Bambang Widjojanto, deputy chief at the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), comes about a week after the agency accused a high-ranking police general of corruption, postponing his appointment as the country's new police chief.
Hundreds of activists gathered for a noisy protest outside the KPK headquarters in Jakarta, claiming Widjojanto's arrest for allegedly interfering in a legal case was police acting out of revenge.
Indonesia's millions of social media users called on Widodo, who made combating corruption a cornerstone of his leadership, to speak out with #WhereAreYouJokowi just trailing #SaveKPK as the top mentions on Twitter.
The president, speaking after meeting with the KPK chairman and deputy police chief, urged both parties to act objectively.
"As head of state I also asked the national police and KPK not to let friction occur when performing their duties," Widodo told reporters.
Earlier national police spokesman Ronny Sompie said Widjojanto could face seven years in prison if found guilty of the allegations.
He was accused of ordering witnesses to give false evidence during a 2010 constitutional court challenge to a local election result, Sompie added.
"We have enough strong evidence of his suspected involvement in the case," he said.
Sompie insisted the investigation was focused on Widjojanto and unrelated to the KPK, an institution that has butted heads with police in the past.
The KPK this month launched a corruption investigation into three-star general Budi Gunawan, who just days earlier had been named the sole pick for national police chief by Widodo.
The president refused to revoke Gunawan's nomination, but later postponed his appointment until the KPK investigation was complete.
At the protest outside KPK headquarters, demonstrators were adamant Widjojanto's arrest was retaliation for the Gunawan case.
"The arrest was symbolic of what is happening. The police are trying to kill the KPK," 26-year-old lawyer Veronica Koman told AFP.
Widjojanto was widely seen as a clean figure in a nation that has seen more than its share of high-profile graft cases.
Anti-corruption group Transparency International ranked Indonesia 107th out of 175 countries in its annual corruption perceptions index last year. A number one ranking means the least corrupt.