Muslim-majority Indonesia votes in its biggest-ever election
Indonesia kicked off one of the world's biggest one-day elections Wednesday, pitting president Joko Widodo against ex-general Prabowo Subianto in a race to lead the Muslim-majority nation.
A woman shows her queueing number before casting her vote at a pooling center during the presidential election in Kuta on Indonesia's resort island of Bali on April 17, 2019. Indonesia kicked off one of the world's biggest one-day elections, pitting president Joko Widodo against ex-general Prabowo Subianto in a race to lead the Muslim-majority nation.[Photo: AFP/SONNY TUMBELAKA]
More than 190 million Indonesians are set to cast a ballot as polls opened shortly after 7:00 am local time (2200 GMT Tuesday) in restive Papua. The vote is slated to end at 1:00 pm (0600 GMT) in Sumatra at the other end of the volcano-dotted archipelago.
Some voters went to their local mosque before casting ballots, as the daily call to prayer sounded across a nation that is nearly 90 percent Muslim.
A record 245,000 candidates are running for public office, from the presidency and parliamentary seats to local positions -- the first time all are being held on the same day.
Opinion polls show Widodo, 57, is a clear favourite -- but he faces a tough challenge from Subianto, 67, who has leaned on a fiery nationalist ticket and warned he will challenge the results over voter-list irregularities if he loses.
Subianto narrowly lost to Widodo in 2014 elections, and unsuccessfully challenged those results.
Voters will flock to more than 800,000 polling stations where they'll punch holes in ballots -- to make clear their candidate choice -- and then dip a finger in Muslim-approved halal ink, a measure to prevent double-voting in a graft-riddled country where ballot-buying is rife.
The polls present a huge logistical challenge in a country stretching 4,800 kilometres across more than 17,000 islands with a population of more than 260 million, including hundreds of ethnic groups and languages.
Officials were moving cardboard ballot boxes by motorbikes, boats and planes -- as well as elephants and horses -- to reach mountaintop villages and communities deep in the jungle.
A series of so-called "quick counts" are expected to give a reliable indication of the presidential winner later Wednesday. Official results are not expected until May.
(Story includes material sourced from AFP.)