IN A sign they have exercised their democratic right to vote, millions of Indonesians have had their say to elect the capital’s Governor – with a result could shape the country’s future.
Religion and allegations of blasphemy were on the minds of some as they cast their vote in Jakarta’s divisive election, as Indonesia’s President called for calm and unity.
More than 60,000 police, military and security officers were deployed across Jakarta on Wednesday, in an election that has been marred by large-scale demonstrations against the incumbent Christian governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama – also known as Ahok – and allegations he committed blasphemy when referring to the Koran last year.
On the eve of the election, police warned against voter intimidation by hardline religious groups, while officials raised concerns of “money politics” with food packages being distributed to potential voters.
But at several polling stations in the back streets of West Jakarta on Wednesday morning, the scene was peaceful.
Suara Anda menentukan nasib Jakarta. Ayo ajak keluarga dan kerabat untuk mencoblos. Kita rayakan pesta demokrasi dengan kebahagiaan. pic.twitter.com/zzZrUxmTtd
— Ahok Basuki TPurnama (@basuki_btp) April 19, 2017
At a school in Palmerah 49-year-old entrepreneur Yadi Haryadi said he was voting for former education minister Anies Baswedan along party lines. He is a long time supporter of Mr Baswedan’s backer – Prabowo Subianto – who lost the election to President Joko Widodo in 2014.
“About (charges against Ahok for) blasphemy, many people has been disappointed with that too,” he told AAP.
At another nearby polling station in the shade of a local mosque, Geril, 31, said she believed Ahok had done a good job as governor but that religion would play a part in people’s vote.
“We acknowledge that. We see lots of development such as all the infrastructure (projects) growing rapidly,” she told AAP.
“In Indonesia, most of the people are religious. All have the same rights to follow what’s inside in their guideline, in Koran.”
After casting his vote in Central Jakarta, Mr Widodo said: “Different political choices should not divide us because we are all brothers whatever the result is, whoever is elected, we must accept that wholeheartedly”.
On the eve of the election, police had raised concerns about ‘psychological and physical intimidation’ following a social media campaign which called on so- called ‘devotees’ of Islam to descend on Jakarta to “guard” polling booths. Ultra-conservative groups have warned against Muslims voting for a non-Muslim. Teacher Elya Al Jufri, 40, said she had travelled from Lombok in Indonesia’s east to witness the election and ensure “no cheating” had occurred.
Voting will close at 1pm local time (4pm AEST) with a quick count of results expected to be released on Wednesday night. Polls leading up to the election had the candidates neck and neck.
For Ahok the battle is far from over. On Thursday prosecutors will outline what sentence they want the court to hand to Ahok over allegations of blasphemy.
SOURCE: newsnow worldnews