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

Penticton Vees erase two-goal deficit to defeat Trail

The Vees take Game 1 of the second round of the BCHL playoffs

2.5 years in Penticton courthouse over neighbour assault ends

Man pleaded guilty, withdrew, stood trial, pleaded guilty to assault described by Crown as ‘vicious’

Country star takes a dip for charity

Brett Kissel went for a dip in Okanagan Lake while in Penticton to raise money for Her International

Pursuit of Excellence defeats OHA in female prep hockey final

Okanagan Hockey Academy lost to Pursuit of Excellence 6-3 at the CSSHL final in Penticton

Oliver holds onto Wine Capital of Canada designation

It might be hard to swallow for other communities but Oliver remains Wine Capital of Canada

What’s happening

Find out what events are taking place this weekend in the Okanagan and Shuswap

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Salmon Arm community cheers on Natalie Wilkie as she wins first gold medal

Local skier tops the podium in 7.5km race at the PyeongChang Paralympics

Experts: Society has a role in trying to prevent domestic violence

Experts are speaking out following the murder of a woman and her son in Ontario

Progress on fixing Phoenix pay system backlog could be short-lived: Ottawa

Feds have said they won’t try to recover money overpaid until all outstanding issues are fixed

Northern lights chasers in Canada discover new type named ‘Steve’

Phenomenon linked to a powerful current created by charged particles in Earth’s upper atmosphere

Washington state backs B.C. in pipeline dispute

Governor Jay Inslee says he is ‘allied’ with the province on Trans Mountain expansion projection

SAY WHAT? Readers weigh in on high-speed rail to U.S.

B.C. to contribute $300,000 to a million-dollar business study on the proposed project

Most Read