Governor Ahok concedes Jakarta election to Baswedan

"Political differences should not break our unity", President Joko Widodo said in a statement after casting his ballot at a central Jakarta polling station.

Jakarta went to the polls in a tight run-off on April 19 with Christian governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama fighting for his job despite standing trial for blasphemy, in a divisive election that has stoked religious tensions in Muslim-majority Indonesia.

With around 50 percent of the quick count conducted, however, a number of credible pollsters show Anies leading the incumbent by 56-58 percent to 41-43 percent.

The Indonesian rupiah weakened slightly after unofficial results were announced.

WITH all major credible pollsters showing him in the lead, a senior figure from the Gerindra Party which backs Anies Baswedan has declared him the victor in the closely-watched race for Jakarta governor.

The polarizing campaign has undermined Indonesia's reputation for practicing a moderate form of Islam.

Some 85 percent of Jakarta's residents are Muslims, but many in the city have regarded Purnama as an effective, straight-talking administrator.

Purnama, who is also the city's first ever ethnic Chinese leader, won the first round of voting in February however his rival is now the favourite to win Wednesday's vote.

A US-educated academician who has only turned to politics in the last three years, Baswedan, 47, had the political backing of former presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto's Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) and the Sharia-based Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS), which form the parliamentary opposition.

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One Twitter user, @fuadhn, said Indonesians "can feel what United States and British citizens feel now".

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

Purnama was an early favourite but his popularity plummeted after authorities brought blasphemy charges against him late past year for comments he made about Islam on the campaign trail.

Hundreds of thousands of Muslims took to the streets late past year to call for his sacking and to urge voters not to elect a non-Muslim leader.

After an anti-Purnama protest previous year turned violent, authorities were taking no chances and over 60,000 security forces had been deployed.

Mr Baswedan, a respected scholar whom many viewed as moderate, drew widespread criticism during the campaign when he aggressively courted the conservative Islamic vote, appearing publicly with hardline Islamic leaders during anti-Purnama rallies.

Ahok congratulated Baswedan on his apparent victory and urged Indonesians to forget the acrimony of the campaign. In this case, there may well have been concerns about the prospect of five years of street disturbances and a trial verdict that could have disqualified Purnama from assuming office anyway.

Ms Baswedan's platform has focused on improving public education, providing no-deposit home loans for low-income groups and opposing a giant seawall in Jakarta Bay that Purnama has advocated.

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