After Jakarta loss, some reprieve for Ahok during blasphemy trial

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Ahok, who was Jakarta's first ethnic Chinese governor and first Christian in half a century, has been popular with middle-class Jakartans for his efforts to stamp out corruption in the city administration and make the overflowing polluted capital more livable.

A sample count extracted from the almost six million ballots cast showed Baswedan secured 58 per cent of the vote, against 42 per cent for the incumbent Basuki Tjahaja Purnama. "Yes, we need a new governor, a well-mannered Muslim governor who isn't protycoons and businessmen, but who is also helping the poor", one of them, Faturrachman, said.

After a campaign marred by religious tensions, charges of blasphemy, and threats of violence, millions of voters in the Indonesian capital go to the polls Wednesday to choose between the incumbent Christian governor and a Muslim challenger.

Earlier Wednesday, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said political differences should not "break our unity". This is a far cry from the five years' maximum imprisonment for blasphemy, as stipulated in Article 156a of the KUHP.

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Dr Philips Vermonte, executive director of the Jakarta-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies, highlighted that Basuki was not able to grow his support base from the first round of the polls on Feb 15, when he led with 43 per cent of the votes.

JAKARTA, INDONESIA- APRIL 19 Indonesian President Joko Widodo with his wife Iriana cast their ballot the second round at a polling station in Jakarta, Indonesia on April 19, 2017.?? photo?? Baswedan is supported by a retired general, Prabowo Subianto, who narrowly lost to Widodo in a 2014 presidential vote and is expected to challenge him again. "Remember, we are all brothers and sisters".

The Indonesian rupiah weakened slightly after unofficial results were announced. "Whoever is elected, we must accept".

About 7 million people are eligible to vote until 1 p.m. (0600 GMT), when polling stations close.

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Meanwhile, Mimah Susanti from Jakarta Election Supervisory Board said they were investigating reports both campaigns were handing out food packages to potential voters ahead of the election.

Authorities established checkpoints in neighboring provinces to ensure there was "no movement of masses toward the capital", said Jakarta police spokesman Argo Yuwono. "The blame is on the politicisation of religion, not Jakarta voters", he told AAP.

The allegations drew hundreds of thousands of conservative Muslims onto the streets of Jakarta in major protests, and led to Purnama being put on trial for blasphemy in a case critics see as politically motivated. "We hope that in the future everyone can forget the campaign period". Official results will be released next month.

In the west Jakarta neighborhood of Kebon Jeruk, Annisa Karolina, a 29-year-old restaurant cashier, said voting for a non-Muslim would be a sin, but she also believes Jakarta will be better run without Ahok.

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"As long as there are no security issues, the election outcome should not significantly stall the reform programme of the national government, in our view", Citigroup said in a note.

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