World

Round 2 for Jakarta poll

Ahok, Anies to face off again after both failed to get 50 per cent of votes for outright win

JAKARTA: The race to become governor of Indonesia's capital is heading for a second round.

Incumbent Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known as Ahok, and his deputy Djarot Saiful Hidayat secured 43.08 per cent of the votes against former education minister Anies Baswedan and businessman Sandiaga Uno, who took 40.14 per cent based on a quick sample count of about 95 per cent of the votes by private polling firm SMRC.

The other candidate, Mr Agus Yudhoyono, the son of former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, was third with 16.78 per cent.

Other pollsters showed similar results.

A candidate needs to get more than 50 per cent of the votes in the first round to win outright.

The earliest a second round will be held is April.

The Jakarta poll has been overshadowed by religious tension, with Islamist-led protests against Governor Basuki, an ethnic Chinese Christian, and calls for voters to choose a Muslim leader for the city.

PROXY BATTLE

Analysts said divisions could linger and even deepen after this election, which is also widely seen as a proxy battle for the next presidential election in 2019.

Mr Purnama is backed by President Joko Widodo's ruling party.

His main rival, Mr Anies, is backed by retired general Prabowo Subianto, who is promising a comeback to the national stage after losing to Mr Widodo in the 2014 presidential vote.

"There would be tension that will be stored until 2019, because of course all this is not really against Purnama, it's against Widodo. Prabowo is coming in now," said Mr Wimar Witoelar, a Jakarta-based political analyst.

The General Elections Commission is expected to announce official results in around two weeks.

Overshadowing the campaign has been Mr Purnama's trial for allegedly insulting the Quran in connection with remarks he made about how people vote.

He denies the charge.

The trial, which began in December, seemed to dent his support initially. But he has rebounded in opinion polls, helped by middle class approval of his efforts to improve the bureaucracy and tackle traffic jams and flooding.

Mr Anies, who was dropped from Mr Widodo's cabinet after a reshuffle in mid-2016, has largely stayed out of the headlines.

But his strategy of targeting the Islamic vote, at a time when conservative Muslim groups were urging voters to shun a non-Muslim leader, gave him a late boost, analysts said. 
- REUTERS

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