According to unofficial counts, the Christian governor of Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, is heading for a tough run-off against a Muslim opponent, following a divisive election campaign marred by religious intolerance and racial bigotry.
Yesterday, 15th February, more than 13,000 polling stations opened across Jakarta to accommodate the 7.1 million people eligible to vote, in one of dozens of elections taking place across the Muslim-majority country.
Early vote tallies by private pollsters showed incumbent Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, whose campaign was hurt by blasphemy charges, holding a narrow lead over Anies Rasyid Baswedan, a former education minister, who has has courted the votes of conservative Muslims despite his past reputation as a liberal Muslim reformer.
A candidate needs to get more than 50 percent of the votes in the first round to win outright.
Officials are expected to announce the final results in about two weeks, while a second round will be held in April if needed.
Ahok, an ethnic Chinese Christian, has been dogged by a blasphemy case following comments he made about the Quran that were deemed insulting to Islam and Muslims.
After two massive protests by conservative Muslims, he was charged and is now on trial for blasphemy, though he remains free to contest the elections.
Al Jazeera’s Step Vaessen, reporting from a polling station in Jakarta, said: “It has been a polarising election here for the highest office in Indonesia’s capital. With religion playing an unprecedented role, many fear that the outcome has not only been determined by the quality of the candidate but also by his beliefs.”
- Pray for Indonesia, for a peaceful outcome to the elections, and for a peaceful run-up to the second round of polling, should that be needed.
- Pray for reconciliation between Indonesia’s Christian and Muslim communities, as tensions have increased over the last few months.
- Pray for the Indonesian Government as it seeks to resolve the religious tensions in the country. Pray that it will not bow to fundamentalist calls for Sharia law to be implemented.
- Pray for Christians in Indonesia, for courage to continue to meet together and to share their faith, and for protection over Churches and Christian communities at this time.
1 Timothy 2 vs 1 – 2: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings should be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity“