Monday, 20 November, 2017

Indonesia capital votes for governor after divisive campaign

Anies Baswadan right a gubernatorial candidate in Jakarta and his deputy Sandiaga Uno stand in front of their supporters while campaigning. Efforts to make the election about the economy have been drowned out by religious controversy Controversial Jakarta Governor leads polls
Howard Terry | 20 April, 2017, 00:16

However, if Baswedan wins the Jakarta election then the influence of Subianto rises again (considering the latter endorses Baswedan).

Indonesians lined up on Wednesday to vote in an election to choose between a Muslim and a Christian candidate to govern Jakarta, after a bruising campaign marred by religious tensions in the capital of the world's third-largest democracy.

Indonesia technically guarantees freedom of religion in its constitution but in reality only six religions are recognised and tough blasphemy laws control debate and target minorities.

He said he would be in touch with his rival and the incumbent Christian and ethnic Chinese governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama.

While the electoral commission stated that the quick count is not the final result, early data from most pollsters suggest Anies Baswedan and his running mate Sandiaga Uno managed to secure a comfortable lead of some 57-58 percent of the vote compared Ahok and Djarot Saiful Hidayat's 42 percent. Purnama won the first round of voting for governor in February in a three-way race.

Jakarta police spokesman Argo Yuwono said the checks were to ensure there was "no movement of masses toward the capital", and added there were no signs so far of crowds gathering.

Alternative facts Image copyright Agus Suparto Image caption Mr Purnama (right) and President Joko Widodo (left) welcomed King Salman in Jakarta, early March. Ahok was backed by Widodow's ruling party, while Baswedan is supported by Prabowo Subiant who lost a presidential bid by a narrow margin in 2014.

Wednesday's election was a test of Indonesia's reputation for religious tolerance.

Arguably, the most successful and unsafe aspect of the anti-Ahok campaign has been the reductionist and divisive rhetoric - that a vote for Ahok is a vote against Islam.

Basuki said the election has highlighted the "conflicted conscience within the Indonesian voter" and has paved the way for political parties to utilise religion and hoax news in the future.

After an anti-Purnama protest previous year turned violent, authorities were taking no chances and over 60,000 security forces had been deployed.

Around 66,000 police and military personnel will be deployed on voting day, police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar said.

Religious tensions have been an undercurrent in the campaign, with Mr Purnama on trial for blasphemy over comments he made previous year that many took to be insulting to Islam.

The incumbent, Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama is now on trial after allegedly insulting the Quran and hundreds of thousands protested against him in Jakarta, deriding his Chinese ancestry and calling for him to be imprisoned or killed. One person died and more than 100 were injured after one protest turned violent.

Indonesia is the world's fourth most-populous country and most populous Muslim nation.

Baswedan, surrounded by his political patrons including Prabowo, struck a reconciliatory tone at a news conference after unofficial results came in, pledging to "safeguard diversity and unity". If convicted, Ahok can face up to five years in prison. Prosecutors are scheduled to read out their sentencing demands in court on Thursday.

After Widodo's 2012 win quickly led to a successful run for the presidency in 2014, Indonesian political insiders now see the Jakarta governorship as a step to the highest office in the land.

But his brash manner and evictions of slum communities alienated many in the city of 10 million.

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