Early results show defeat for Jakarta’s Christian governor

Early results show defeat for Jakarta's Christian governor

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Unofficial results showed the minority Christian governor of the Indonesian capital was resoundingly defeated Wednesday by his Muslim challenger who swept up votes by appealing to a growing conservatism in the world’s most populous Muslim nation.

So called “quick counts” by 10 research companies show former Cabinet minister Anies Baswedan winning between 55 and 60 per cent of votes with more than 80 per cent of ballots counted.

Incumbent Gov. Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama is on trial for blasphemy and hundreds of thousands protested against him in Jakarta, deriding his Chinese ancestry and calling for him to be imprisoned or killed.

Baswedan, highly educated and with a moderate Muslim background, capitalized on the backlash against Ahok by courting the support of conservative clerics and figures on the radical fringe who opposed electing a non-Muslim.

The polarizing campaign gave hard-line Islamic groups a national stage and has undermined Indonesia’s reputation for practicing a moderate form of Islam.

Ahok’s defeat is a setback for his political patron, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who on Thursday hosts Vice-President Mike Pence on the Indonesian leg of an Asian tour. Ahok’s rival Baswedan was supported by the political and business elite that Jokowi unexpectedly bested in the 2014 presidential election and who will be seeking to unseat him in 2019.

Ahok congratulated Baswedan on his apparent victory and urged Indonesians to forget the acrimony of the campaign. Baswedan told reporters that he is committed to maintaining the diversity of Jakarta and will emphasize social justice.

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 and make the overflowing polluted capital more livable.

But his brash manner and evictions of slum communities alienated many in the city of 10 million.

Opponents seized their moment last year when a video surfaced of Ahok telling voters they were being deceived if they believed a specific verse in the Qur’an prohibited Muslims from electing a non-Muslim as leader. Hard-line groups drew huge crowds to protests in Jakarta, shaking Jokowi’s centrist government.

On Thursday, prosecutors will make their sentencing demand in Ahok’s trial. Blasphemy is a criminal offence in Indonesia and punishable by up to five years in prison.

Opinion polls released earlier in the week seriously miscalled the outcome of Wednesday’s vote, showing Baswedan and Ahok neck-and-neck.

In the west Jakarta neighbourhood 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.

A couple standing near her at the polling booth nodded in agreement. “Yes, we need a new governor, a well-mannered Muslim governor who isn’t pro-tycoons and businessmen, but who is also helping the poor,” one of them, Faturrachman, said.

More than 7 million people were eligible to vote and thousands of police and military personnel were deployed to secure the 13,000-plus polling places.

___

Associated Press writers Niniek Karmini and Ali Kotarumalos contributed to this report.

Stephen Wright, The Associated Press

Just Posted

Today’s Road conditions and weather report

Quesnel River River Bridge undergoing maintenance now until 4 a.m. tomorrow morning, falling rocks Spences Bridge to Jackass

UPDATE: Tsunami warning cancelled for coastal British Columbia

Warning issued following 7.9 earthquake off Kodiak, AK

Power back on for all residences in Quesnel area

Hydro crews cleaned up three outages last night, and turned power back on for fourth one today. KAREN POWELL PHOTO

FHL: Bear wins again over BCS with dramatic goal

Steve Dodge brings us all the highlights from the FHL

Highway 97 has slippery sections both north and south of Quesnel

Motorists will have to drive to road conditions and drive with caution

Testing the Google Arts & Culture app

Going face to face with art

‘Shape of Water’ producer, Christopher Plummer among Canadian Oscar nominees

Guillermo del Toro film about merman romance earns 13 nominations

Canada, TPP agrees to revised deal without the United States

Canada and the remaining members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership have agreed to a revised trade agreement

Tsunami warnings 101: Canada

Here are some things to know about tsunami alerts in Canada and how they work

Rogers Media cuts ties with Vice Canada

Rogers Media and Vice Canada are ending their three-year-old partnership, pulling Viceland TV channel off the air

VIDEO: Fuel truck and train collide in B.C. causing massive fire

More emergency crews are still arriving on scene of a massive fire at the Port Coquitlam rail yard.

Back to work: U.S. government shutdown ends after Democrats relent

Short-term spending measure means both sides could see another shutdown stalemate in three weeks

Man lives despite malfunctioning defibrillator at B.C. arena

A middle-aged man went into cardiac arrest after at game at Pitt Meadows Arena last Wednesday.

Most Read