امروز : 07 تير 1396

Polls open in Jakarta governor election

چهارشنبه 27 بهمن 11:09
Millions of residents in the Indonesian capital Jakarta went to the polls Wednesday to elect the city's governor after a campaign period marred by religious and ethnic tensions.
Polls open in Jakarta governor election

According to Rapporteur Report From, DPA, LinkThe election pits incumbent governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama against two rivals - former education minister Anies Baswedan and Agus Yudhoyono, the son of former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Purnama led opinion polls in the run-up to the election, but is not expected to win more than 50 per cent of the votes, making a run-off unavoidable.

Purnama, a minority ethnic Chinese Christian, has been dogged by a blasphemy case triggered by comments he made about the Koran that were deemed insulting to Islam. 

In September, he told residents that they did not have to vote for him if they were afraid of going to hell because they "have been lied to using Surah Al-Maidah verse 51," which some Muslims believe forbids them from electing Jews and Christians as their leaders.  

Purnama has denied he intended to insult the Koran, saying he was referring to those who misused religion for political purposes.

After two massive protests by conservative Muslims, Purnama was charged and is now on trial for blasphemy, though he remains free to contest the poll.

Whoever wins the election will have to tackle worsening traffic congestion, frequent flooding and a wide gap between the rich and the poor.

The megacity of 10 million people is also sinking at a rate of between 3 and 25 centimetres a year because of groundwater extraction and the load of high-rise constructions. 

"I hope Jakarta will be free of corruption, traffic jams and floods," said 35-year-old resident Reza Aditya after casting his ballot at a polling station in central Jakarta, declining to reveal the candidate of his choice.

Purnama's rival Yudhoyono said he hoped for the best.

"I leave it to God to decide, but all of us have to make sure we prevent all forms of fraud," he said after voting.

The campaign period was also marked by rising anti-Chinese sentiment sparked by false news spreading online, including rumours that millions of Chinese were coming to Indonesia illegally.    

Purnama has won praise from many Jakartans for cleaning up rivers clogged with rubbish as part of his flood prevention programme and building more parks.

But critics say his moves to evict squatters and slum dwellers to make way for development have worsened poverty and caused dispossession.

Purnama's closest rival, Baswedan, has courted the votes of conservative Muslims, despite his past reputation as a liberal Muslim reformer.

Support from conservatives rose after he visited the headquarters of the Islamic Defenders' Front, whose leader, Muhammad Rizieq Shihab, was a key member of the anti-Purnama protests. 

Official results will not be announced until the end of this month, but pollsters were expected to reveal so-called "quick counts" later on Wednesday. Quick counts have proven to be accurate in predicting the results of past elections.

A second round election between the two candidates with the most votes is scheduled for April 19.

Some analysts say Purnama is likely to be defeated by his Muslim rival in the run-off, even if he wins the most votes in the first round.

The Jakarta poll is one of about 100 local elections for governors, mayors and district chiefs held simultaneously across the country on Wednesday. 

Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim-majority country but the government is largely secular. 

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