Thursday 23rd February, 2017
early-count-shows-purnama-baswedan-leading-first-round-vote-in-jakarta-governor-polls

JAKARTA, Indonesia - According to unofficial vote counts, the bitterly-fought election for governor of Jakarta will proceed to a second round in April with no candidate getting more than 50 percent in Wednesday's vote and win an outright majority.

Earlier in the day, voters in Jakarta queued up at polling booths to cast their votes in the Indonesian capital’s gubernatorial election, seen as a test of religious tolerance in Muslim-majority Indonesia.

The city's incumbent governor is Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, whose Hakka nickname Ahok, is embroiled in controversy and is fighting a case in court on blasphemy charges after he said, in a campaign speech, that voters were deceived by hard-line Muslims if they believed a specific verse in the Quran prohibited Muslims from electing a non-Muslim as leader.

If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.

Ahok's campaign was affected by the blasphemy charges and there seemed little hope of him returning to power currently, but he has recently rebounded in opinion polls. 

An ethnic Chinese Christian, Ahok is facing off against two candidates - Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, the eldest son of former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and Anies Baswedan, a former Muslim education minister who served in the administration of current President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.

According to quick vote counts carried out by researchers, the incumbent governor at present had a slight lead in the first round with 43 percent of the vote.

Close behind with about 40 percent was Anies Baswedan, who has the support of former general Prabowo Subianto. 

Official results are expected after February 27.

The other candidate, Agus Yudhoyono, was in third place with 17 percent. 

However, Ahok is seen as unlikely to win in April's second round against Anies Baswedan.

Baswedan said "Thanks be to God!" on hearing he looked he could become governor of the city- but Ahok, who has won support with his determination to clean up Jakarta, signaled he was ready for a fight.

"This is not over yet," he told cheering supporters at his campaign headquarters. 

"Some pollsters said we were the candidates no one would vote for," he said, referring to himself and his running mate. 

"We ended up in the lead."

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