Indonesian votes in presidential election

By Admin - Wed Jul 08, 11:13 am

news_Indonesia-Presidential-poll_116JAKARTA :Indonesia voted in only its second direct presidential election since the fall of the Suharto dictatorship on Wednesday with ex-general Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono tipped to win a second term.

Opinion polls suggest Yudhoyono could avoid a run-off in September by beating opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri and outgoing Vice President Jusuf Kalla with a clear majority in the first round.

Victory will give the mild-mannered 59-year-old — who likes to write love songs in his spare time — a clear mandate to speed up bureaucratic reform and fight corruption in the most populous Muslim-majority nation.

He would also be the first president to serve consecutive terms at the helm of the world’s third-biggest democracy behind India and the United States, after its violent birth at the end of three decades of dictatorship in 1998.

The first polls to open were in the eastern province of Papua and voting was set to follow across the country with the final ballots closing at 0600 GMT.

“I voted for a president who will bring wealth and health to the people, and that person is SBY,” 31-year-old shop assistant Laica said after casting her ballot in Papua, using Yudhoyono’s nickname.

Almost 250,000 police have been deployed across the vast archipelago of 234 million people to safeguard polling stations, especially in restive Papua where violence marred legislative polls in April.

Security forces opened fire on a group of people who attacked a police post and set three vehicles on fire before dawn near the massive US-owned Freeport mine in Papua, police said.

“We suspect that this group wanted to disrupt the elections but we are still investigating who they are,” Mimika town police chief Godhelp Mansnembra told AFP, adding no one was injured.

Megawati, who has complained over incomplete voter lists and a shortage of polling stations, was the first of the three candidates to cast her ballot.

Appearing with her husband at a polling booth in Jakarta, the ex-president and daughter of independence hero Sukarno dipped her little finger in blue ink and posed for photographers but said nothing to reporters.

Speaking to provincial governors on Tuesday, Yudhoyono called for a “smooth presidential election that is truly honest, fair, direct, free and secret.”

Yudhoyono’s popularity is based on five years of steady economic growth in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, slow but even-handed reform of the bureaucracy and security forces, and a tough anti-corruption drive.

He has weathered the global financial meltdown, with strong domestic demand underpinning growth at around four percent this year.

Despite his popularity, Yudhoyono has been criticised for caving in to Islamist extremists over tolerance issues such as a controversial anti-pornography law and restrictions on the minority Ahmadiyah sect.

But his government has worked closely with the United States and Australia to crack down on Al-Qaeda inspired fanatics who launched the 2002 Bali bombings and other atrocities.

Three of the Bali bombers were executed by firing squad last year and hundreds of other terrorist suspects have been rounded up.

Security issues have barely rated in the election debate, which has been fought over issues such as corruption, food prices and Indonesia’s response to the pressures of globalisation.

Megawati and Kalla have both touted a brand of economic nationalism in response to what they have called Yudhoyono’s “neo-liberalism,” vowing to protect jobs from foreign competition and investment.

The presence of Suharto-era generals on all three tickets shows the lingering power of the old military elite in Indonesia, analysts said.

Megawati teamed up with notorious special forces ex-commander Prabowo Subianto as her running mate, while Kalla chose former military chief Wiranto, who has been indicted by United Nations prosecutors for crimes against humanity over East Timor’s bloody independence referendum in 1999.

Yudhoyono, who was a senior general under Suharto but emerged from that regime with his reputation intact, chose Western-educated economist and former central bank chief Boediono as his vice-presidential candidate.
JAKARTA :Indonesia voted in only its second direct presidential election since the fall of the Suharto dictatorship on Wednesday with ex-general Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono tipped to win a second term.

Opinion polls suggest Yudhoyono could avoid a run-off in September by beating opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri and outgoing Vice President Jusuf Kalla with a clear majority in the first round.

Victory will give the mild-mannered 59-year-old — who likes to write love songs in his spare time — a clear mandate to speed up bureaucratic reform and fight corruption in the most populous Muslim-majority nation.

He would also be the first president to serve consecutive terms at the helm of the world’s third-biggest democracy behind India and the United States, after its violent birth at the end of three decades of dictatorship in 1998.

The first polls to open were in the eastern province of Papua and voting was set to follow across the country with the final ballots closing at 0600 GMT.

“I voted for a president who will bring wealth and health to the people, and that person is SBY,” 31-year-old shop assistant Laica said after casting her ballot in Papua, using Yudhoyono’s nickname.

Almost 250,000 police have been deployed across the vast archipelago of 234 million people to safeguard polling stations, especially in restive Papua where violence marred legislative polls in April.

Security forces opened fire on a group of people who attacked a police post and set three vehicles on fire before dawn near the massive US-owned Freeport mine in Papua, police said.

“We suspect that this group wanted to disrupt the elections but we are still investigating who they are,” Mimika town police chief Godhelp Mansnembra told AFP, adding no one was injured.

Megawati, who has complained over incomplete voter lists and a shortage of polling stations, was the first of the three candidates to cast her ballot.

Appearing with her husband at a polling booth in Jakarta, the ex-president and daughter of independence hero Sukarno dipped her little finger in blue ink and posed for photographers but said nothing to reporters.

Speaking to provincial governors on Tuesday, Yudhoyono called for a “smooth presidential election that is truly honest, fair, direct, free and secret.”

Yudhoyono’s popularity is based on five years of steady economic growth in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, slow but even-handed reform of the bureaucracy and security forces, and a tough anti-corruption drive.

He has weathered the global financial meltdown, with strong domestic demand underpinning growth at around four percent this year.

Despite his popularity, Yudhoyono has been criticised for caving in to Islamist extremists over tolerance issues such as a controversial anti-pornography law and restrictions on the minority Ahmadiyah sect.

But his government has worked closely with the United States and Australia to crack down on Al-Qaeda inspired fanatics who launched the 2002 Bali bombings and other atrocities.

Three of the Bali bombers were executed by firing squad last year and hundreds of other terrorist suspects have been rounded up.

Security issues have barely rated in the election debate, which has been fought over issues such as corruption, food prices and Indonesia’s response to the pressures of globalisation.

Megawati and Kalla have both touted a brand of economic nationalism in response to what they have called Yudhoyono’s “neo-liberalism,” vowing to protect jobs from foreign competition and investment.

The presence of Suharto-era generals on all three tickets shows the lingering power of the old military elite in Indonesia, analysts said.

Megawati teamed up with notorious special forces ex-commander Prabowo Subianto as her running mate, while Kalla chose former military chief Wiranto, who has been indicted by United Nations prosecutors for crimes against humanity over East Timor’s bloody independence referendum in 1999.

Yudhoyono, who was a senior general under Suharto but emerged from that regime with his reputation intact, chose Western-educated economist and former central bank chief Boediono as his vice-presidential candidate.

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