Indonesians to vote in regional elections, all eyes on Jakarta | Reuters

By Agustinus Beo Da Costa and Kanupriya Kapoor | JAKARTA JAKARTA Nearly 50 million Indonesians are set to vote on Wednesday in scores of regional elections but the most closely watched is in the capital, Jakarta, where campaigning for the post of governor has inflamed religious tension. Polls will open first in the east of the sprawling archipelago

Reuters February 15, 2017 03:00:08 IST
Indonesians to vote in regional elections, all eyes on Jakarta
| Reuters

Indonesians to vote in regional elections all eyes on Jakarta
 Reuters

By Agustinus Beo Da Costa and Kanupriya Kapoor
| JAKARTA

JAKARTA Nearly 50 million Indonesians are set to vote on Wednesday in scores of regional elections but the most closely watched is in the capital, Jakarta, where campaigning for the post of governor has inflamed religious tension. Polls will open first in the east of the sprawling archipelago. In all, 101 elections will be held in the world's third-most populous democracy, for provincial, city and district chiefs.In Jakarta, where the job of governor can be a springboard to the presidency, three candidates are competing: the Christian, ethnic Chinese incumbent, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, and two Muslim candidates.Mudslinging, political intrigue and rising hardline Islamist sentiment have overshadowed the Jakarta campaign, and raised questions about the role of religion in politics.Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population but it enshrines religious diversity in an officially secular system.Purnama, or Ahok as he is commonly known, is on trial on a charge of insulting the Koran, a case that has brought thousands of Muslims onto the streets, urging voters to shun a non-Muslim as leader.He denies the charge and has been faring well in opinion polls, which analysts attribute to his record of improving the bureaucracy and taking steps to ease horrendous traffic jams and flooding.

His rivals are Agus Yudhoyono, a son of former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and former education minister Anies Baswedan.Purnama was a deputy to President Joko Widodo when he was the previous Jakarta governor and Widodo's party is backing him.Baswedan is backed by a former general who Widodo beat in the last presidential election in 2014, Prabowo Subianto, who is promising a comeback to the national stage.The Jakarta vote is being widely seen as a proxy battle for the next presidential election, due in 2019.

The competition has been particularly bitter between Purnama's camp and that of Yudhoyono. Former president Yudhoyono said on Twitter on Tuesday that various figures were trying to sabotage his son's chances.Police will deploy 75,000 personnel across the country with 16,000 on duty in Jakarta, where concern lingers over the possibility of hardline Muslim groups taking to the streets to agitate against Purnama.Some Islamist groups have said they will send members to polling stations to "safeguard" the vote.

"We will send trained volunteers to at least 13,000 polling stations to watch as the votes are counted," said Muhammad al Khaththath of the Islamic People's Forum, which was among the organisers of the anti-Purnama rallies. "We are sure that in this situation, a Muslim will win," he said.Polling stations will close by 0600 GMT. Quick counts, expected shortly after, are tallies of votes by private polling firms at a sample of voting booths across the city.The General Elections Commission is expected to announce official results after about two weeks.If no candidate achieves a majority in the first round in any provincial vote, including Jakarta, a runoff is expected in May between the two candidates securing the most votes. (Editing by Robert Birsel)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

Guinea president 'captured', govt dissolved, claim army putschists'; attack on presidential palace repulsed, say authorities
World

Guinea president 'captured', govt dissolved, claim army putschists'; attack on presidential palace repulsed, say authorities

Reports suggest that they captured President Alpha Conde and dissolved the government, bust the ground situation remains unclear

Cryptocurrency prices tumble and exchange trading falters as snags crop up
News & Analysis

Cryptocurrency prices tumble and exchange trading falters as snags crop up

NEW YORK (Reuters) -The price of cryptocurrencies plunged and crypto trading was delayed on Tuesday, a day in which El Salvador ran into snags as the first country to adopt bitcoin as legal tender. Shares of blockchain-related firms also fell as crypto stocks were hit by trading platform outages. But the major focus was on El Salvador, where the government had to temporarily unplug a digital wallet to cope with demand.

Ford poaches Apple's car project chief Doug Field
News & Analysis

Ford poaches Apple's car project chief Doug Field

By Joseph White and Sanjana Shivdas (Reuters) -The head of Apple Inc's car project, Doug Field, is going to work for Ford Motor Co to lead the automaker's advanced technology and embedded systems efforts, a hiring coup for Ford Chief Executive Jim Farley.