Indonesia's Widodo declares victory in presidential race

Indonesia's Widodo declares victory in presidential race

Jakarta: Jakarta governor Joko Widodo declared victory today in Indonesia's tightest and most divisive presidential race since the downfall of dictator Suharto, which has pitted him against ex-general Prabowo Subianto.

Indonesian presidential candidate Joko Widodo (L) and his wife Iriana Widodo (R) gesture showing their inked fingers after voting in the country's presidential election in Jakarta on July 9, 2014. Jakarta governor Joko Widodo declared victory on July 9 in Indonesia's tightest and most divisive presidential race since the downfall of dictator Suharto, which has pitted him against ex-general Prabowo Subianto. AFP PHOTO

 

It came after unofficial tallies from polling agencies showed him leading with around 53 per cent of the vote against Prabowo's 47 per cent.

 

Flanked by members of his Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle in the capital, Widodo said: "We would like to greatly thank all the Indonesian people... as well as party members who worked hard from morning to evening."

 

There was no immediate reaction from Prabowo.

 

It came after a bitterly fought campaign that saw long-time favourite Widodo's lead shrink dramatically, voters in the world's third-biggest democracy have faced a choice starkly different candidates.

 

A former furniture exporter from a humble background, Widodo, known by his nickname Jokowi, is the first serious presidential contender without links to the authoritarian past. Should he win, he is seen as likely to usher in a new style of leadership and consolidate democracy.

 

Prabowo, a former son-in-law of Suharto who has admitted ordering the abduction of democracy activists before the strongman's downfall in 1998, has won support with promises of firm leadership in a country where many yearn for a strong figurehead.

 

But critics fear he may shift Indonesia back towards authoritarian rule.

 

Earlier, Widodo was mobbed by hundreds of journalists and supporters as he voted at a polling station near the Jakarta governor's residence in the centre of the capital.

 

Prabowo was also greeted by an enthusiastic crowd as he voted at a polling station near his countryside house outside the capital, arriving in a jeep and escorted by two mounted policemen.

 

"I'm very optimistic, and God willing we will get support from people everywhere," said the 63-year-old after voting.

 

"My hope is that the election went well and smoothly, with no fraud and no intimidation."

 

Some 190 million voters were eligible to cast ballots across the sprawling archipelago of more than 17,000 islands that spans three time zones.

 

Polling stations closed across the country, from eastern Papua, to the main island of Java and jungle-clad Sumatra in the west, closed at 1:00 pm and no major disruptions to voting were reported.

 

Several months ago Widodo looked to be on a smooth course to lead the country. But, after a polarising campaign, his once-huge lead has shrunk.

 

The Jakarta governor was targeted by smears, including a claim that he is an ethnic Chinese Christian and not a Muslim, a deeply damaging charge in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country.

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