15 December, Friday


Indonesian capital electing governor as tensions rise

World

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Millions of voters are expected to cast ballots Wednesday to elect the next governor of Jakarta amid rising religious tensions in the city.

The runoff election pits ethnic Chinese-Christian Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama against former Education Minister Anies Baswedan.

Baswedan is supported by opposition groups -- Gerindra Party and Prosperous Justice Party -- and conservative clerics who oppose electing a non-Muslim to the post.

Purnama, who draws backing from the country's ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), ran in the gubernatorial race while charged with blasphemy in the world's most populous Muslim nation for remarks last year that voters were "deceived" if they believed a verse in the Quran prevented Muslims from electing a non-Muslim.

Some groups plan to mobilize tens of thousands of Muslims on Wednesday to guard more than 13,000 polling stations across Jakarta.

Police have been posted at the Jakarta border since Tuesday to block outside masses from entering the capital city.

Jakarta resident, Monika, told Anadolu Agency voters "should vote for candidates according to their integrity and hard work, rather than based on his religion and race".

Mega Agnes said she was disturbed by the recent political climate and hopes it would end once election is completed.

"Hopefully after today, the politics in Indonesia will calm again,” she said.

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