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Jakarta governor election: 'Quick count' shows Ahok losing office to Anies Basweden

ABC Radio Australia - April 19, 2017

Samantha Hawley, Indonesia Muslim candidate Anies Basweden has raced to an early lead in Jakarta's election according to an unofficial "quick counts" after millions of residents cast their ballots at more than 13,000 polling booths across the city to elect the capital's next governor.

The official result will not be released for a few weeks but quick counts which are collated by pollsters, television stations and research agencies suggests incumbent Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who is better known as Ahok, will lose by a margin of up to 15 per cent.

Ahok secured just over 40 percent of the vote, according to the quick count.

There had been concern the election could spark unrest, and police in the capital were prepared to respond.

The campaign has been one of the most bitterly fought elections the city has ever seen, and the election is being seen as a test for religious tolerance and pluralism in the majority Muslim nation.

Jakarta election tensions high

A bitterly fought campaign for Jakarta's top job is taking place, and while it is difficult to predict who will win, unrest is highly likely.

Jakarta's police chief Mochamad Iriawan confirmed a number of people were taken into custody for their conduct at some polling booths in the city. He said in one case a group had tried to break into a polling booth, but gave no further detail.

In Petamburan in central Jakarta a small crowd stood quietly to hear the votes read out. The booth is unique as it is home to the headquarters of the radical group the Islamic Defenders Front, that has led the campaign against the current governor, but is also heavily populated by Christians.

Police had warned against intimidation of voters, with some ultraconservative Islamic groups threatening to guard booths. They argue Muslims are prohibited by the Koran from voting for a non-Muslim leader.

Inspector General Iriawan said he was also investigating reports that one booth did not have enough ballot papers.

President calls appeals for unity on poll day

After casting his ballot, President Joko Widodo urged voters to accept the result. "Whatever the result is, whoever gets elected, we have to accept it with big hearts," Mr Widodo said.

"I believe that democracy, the governor's election is going well and will produce a leader of Jakarta that is best and trustworthy," he said. "The difference in politics should not break our unity. We are all brothers."

Voters spoken to by the ABC expressed their relief to have cast their ballots, but most said they were anxious about the result.

"I feel relieved after I voted, I hope Jakarta is more beautiful, is a better Jakarta," one woman voting at the president's polling booth said, holding her ink-stained finger high.

"I feel my heart beating expecting the result, I'm guessing who will win," another woman said, although not revealing her vote. "That's a secret," she added.

"Surely Anies will be the winner," a male voter said. "I believe that the choice depends on the person but I believe Jakartans have grown smarter voters, whoever they choose they will be responsible for that."

Source: http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2017-04-19/jakarta-governor-election-quick-count-shows-ahok-losing-office-to-anies-basweden/1665766.

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