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            [post_content] => Jakarta.  Hundreds of colorful flower boards for outgoing Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama and Deputy Governor Djarot Saiful Hidayat filled Jakarta's City Hall on Tuesday morning (25/04), sent by the city's residents to say thanks and farewell to their beloved leaders.

Many of the flower boards were accompanied with melancholic, Hallmark card-like messages for the governor, which quickly did the round on social media.

Read the story here.

[caption id="attachment_657168" align="aligncenter" width="642"]"Dear Ahok and Djarot, so many people tell me to forget about you, but I'll go to the urban ward office and get me a letter of exception." (Photo posted on Indonesian social media) "Dear Ahok and Djarot, so many people tell me to forget about you, but I'll go to the urban ward office and get me a letter of exception." (Photo posted on Indonesian social media)[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_657158" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]Flower boards line the entrance of Jakarta City Hall on Tuesday (25/04). (Photo posted on Indonesian social media) Flower boards line the entrance of Jakarta City Hall on Tuesday (25/04). (Photo posted on Indonesian social media)[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_657156" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]Motorists pass hundreds of flower boards sent by Ahok's supporters outside Jakarta City Hall on Tuesday (25/04). (Photo posted on Indonesian social media) Motorists pass hundreds of flower boards sent by Ahok's supporters outside Jakarta City Hall on Tuesday (25/04). (Photo posted on Indonesian social media)[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_657153" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]"A thousand flowers bloom after your loss. Thank you, Ahok!" (Photo posted on Indonesian social media) "A thousand flowers bloom after your loss. Thank you, Ahok!" (Photo posted on Indonesian social media)[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_657154" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]"Oh God, I love Basuki, I love Tjahaja, I miss Purnama, I want Badja [abbreviation of Basuki-Djarot, the nickname for Ahok's supporters during the election]." (Photo posted on Indonesian social media) "Oh God, I love Basuki, I love Tjahaja, I miss Purnama, I want Badja [abbreviation of Basuki-Djarot, the nickname for Ahok's supporters during the election]." (Photo posted on Indonesian social media)[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_657170" align="aligncenter" width="960"]Flower boards fill the front yard of Jakarta's City Hall on Tuesday (25/04). (Photo posted on Indonesian social media) Flower boards fill the front yard of Jakarta's City Hall on Tuesday (25/04). (Photo posted on Indonesian social media)[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_657174" align="aligncenter" width="768"]"In my heart I still can't move on from Ahok and Djarot. Signed, Heartbroken." (Photo posted on Indonesian social media) "In my heart I still can't move on from Ahok and Djarot. Signed, Heartbroken." (Photo posted on Indonesian social media)[/caption]

 

 

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            [post_content] => Jakarta. Hary Tanoesoedibjo, an Indonesian media mogul and chairman of the Indonesian Unity Party, or Perindo, filed a police report on Tuesday (25/04) against an article written by senior investigative journalist Allan Nairn which mentions Hary as one of the main supporters in an alleged treason plot against President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo’s administration.

Nairn's story alleged that Hary provided funds to the plotters and supported them by skewing the reporting of the group to their advantage on his MNC Group TV station, newspaper and online news outlets.

Perindo's defense team leader Christophorus Taufik said Nairn’s piece, translated and published in an abridged form by local online media Tirto.id, was a hoax.

"The article is slander," Christophorus said at the Jakarta Police headquarters in South Jakarta on Tuesday.

"It must have been written by someone had just woken up from his dream of being a spy. It's delusional. But we're not taking it lightly, this has gone too far as a joke," the lawyer added.

The report was filed to the police's special crime investigation unit, accusing Nairn of violating Article 310 of the Criminal Code on slander through electronic media and Article 311 on Information and Electronic Transactions (ITE) — Indonesia's draconian internet law.

Jakarta Police spokesman Chief Comr. Raden Prabowo Argo Yuwono said the report has been received and the police have already initiated a preliminary investigation.

"We've got the report. It's under investigation," Argo said.

Allan Nairn is an award-winning US investigative journalist who has had several run-ins with the Indonesian military over his coverage of its brutal occupation of East Timor.

His article, originally titled "Trump’s Indonesian Allies in Bed With Isis-backed Militia Seeking to Oust Elected President," detailed an alleged plot by former and current members of the military, as well as various political elites and prominent businessmen to use the protests against Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama to oust Jokowi’s administration.
            [post_title] => Media Mogul Files Report Against Investigative Journalist Allan Nairn
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                            [title] => Capres dan Cawapres dari Partai Hanura, Wiranto (kiri) dan Hary Tanoe Soedibjo (tengah) atau disebut WIN-HT, bersama artis dangdut, Ayu Ting Ting, menyapa para simpatisan saat Kampanye Partai Hanura di Gelora Pantjasila Surabaya, Selasa (25/3).
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            [post_content] => Jakarta. Incumbent Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama's defeat at the hands of rival candidate Anies Baswedan in Wednesday's (19/04) runoff election raised alarms among many observers that the country's young democracy still has a long way to go in combating religious and ethnic discrimination.

However, the capital was calm in the evening after the nail-biting election, defusing fears among some residents that mass gatherings or rallies would consume city streets during and in the wake of Wednesday's vote. Investors seemed relieved as well, as the country's benchmark stock index dropped only slightly on Thursday, with businessmen observing that risks or uncertainties in Indonesian markets were largely dispelled due to the peaceful election turnout.

Indeed, more relief came the day following the vote, as state prosecutors pushed for reduced charges in a blasphemy case against Jakarta's first ethnic Chinese and Christian leader in the post-Suharto era.

However, rhetoric and methods used by politicians in defeating Ahok have nevertheless raised concerns among local and foreign political observers concerned about the future for democracy in the world's largest Muslim-majority nation.

Stigma

[caption id="attachment_655841" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]Three mass rallies against Ahok were led by hardline Muslim groups in the campaign period before Wednesday's (19/04) vote, threatening to erode the country's longstanding tradition of practicing a moderate form of Islam. (Reuters/Beawiharta) Three mass rallies against Ahok were led by hardline Muslim groups in the campaign period before Wednesday's (19/04) vote, threatening to erode the country's longstanding tradition of practicing a moderate form of Islam. (Reuters/Beawiharta)[/caption]

Poet and senior journalist Goenawan Mohamad wrote a comment on his official Facebook account analyzing what the defeat of Ahok  an outspoken governor who often drew ire from his political opponents  could mean for the path ahead.

"Ahok has lost; this has now been settled by the 2017 regional election. All that noise surrounding it will soon become history. Many are relieved — either because Anies has won, or because the campaign, poisoned with hate that shattered many friendships, has finally passed," said the former editor-in-chief of investigative magazine Tempo.

"But I hope one thing will not be forgotten. Ahok has entered the arena bound in fetters and labeled as 'a blasphemer.' He can move and talk, but he is not entirely free. His achievements as the region’s head, which have been acknowledged by many and made him unparalleled, are now almost no longer seen or heard of."

"The use of the label against Ahok is probably the most successful stigmatization technique in the history of Indonesian politics. A stigma derived from slander. He did not insult Islam, but the charge had been continuously repeated. If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes 'the truth,' the Nazi's propaganda chief used to say. We hear it at mosques, in social media, in everyday conversations; the allegation has been turned into a conviction," Goenawan said.

"Now Ahok is tried by the court, charged under the anti-blasphemy law that was produced by the New Order regime — a law with unclear provisions, unclear even on who has the right to represent the religion that had been insulted. As a result of it, Ahok has been treated unjustly in three ways: through slander, by being presumed guilty before the court’s verdict and by being tried under a dubious law."

"It is hypocritical to pretend to recognize this injustice while cheering his immutable political defeat. Ahok has lost, he may even be sentenced in a court process informed by mass pressure. The truth may also lose — as it is wont to do in this 'post-truth' era," Goenawan said.

Identity politics


Concerns over the future of democracy in the Southeast Asian country were shared by foreign observers as well.

Reuters reported on Thursday that international rating agency Fitch said in a statement previous religious tensions during the Jakarta gubernatorial election could resurface in the run-up to the country's next presidential race in 2019.

"The early results of the tense Jakarta elections seem to suggest that religious factors could play an increasingly significant role in future Indonesian elections," the statement said, as cited by Reuters.

Three mass rallies against Ahok were led by hardline Muslim groups in the campaign period before Wednesday's vote, threatening to erode the country's longstanding tradition of practicing a moderate form of Islam.

However, the rating agency still acknowledged Indonesia's recent progress, explaining that the country has made "substantial" strides in improving good governance over the past two decades. The country's democratic electoral processes, the statement said, are still intact.

Still, experts and academics around the world say that religious and ethnic discrimination should be expected to play a greater role in future elections if the government and high-ranking Muslim figures do not take significant steps to promote tolerance.

[caption id="attachment_623603" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]Members of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) demonstrate in front of the National Police headquarters in Jakarta in January. (Antara Photo/Reno Esnir) Members of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) demonstrate in front of the National Police headquarters in Jakarta in January. (Antara Photo/Reno Esnir)[/caption]

"Going forward, the politics of religion is going to be a potent force," Keith Loveard, an analyst at Jakarta-based Concord Consulting and an author of books about Indonesian politics, told Reuters in a report on Wednesday.

According to Loveard, some residents may have been reluctant to vote for Ahok due to worries of "five more years of protests on the streets by Muslim hardliners."

Muhammad Najib Azca, a professor of social and political sciences at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, viewed religious and ethnic intolerance as a driving factor in the election's outcome.

"What happened in Jakarta was an anomaly. Ahok and Djarot were unable to translate their high approval rating [...] into real political support," Najib told the Jakarta Globe in a phone interview on Wednesday evening.

"There were variables beyond public approval ratings, including strong undertones of religious-based identity politics," he added.

Najib argued that identity politics has become a main force in driving public opinion, even in the face of successful governance programs directed by Ahok. "This intervening variable has affected voters through a very sophisticated and elaborate political process."

[caption id="attachment_561767" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]Children seen resting at a recently developed park meant to provide respite from the hustle and bustle of Jakarta's unrelenting traffic. Ahok's administration plans to approve similar projects before the governor's term ends in October. (Antara Photo/Hafiz Mubarak A.) Children seen resting at a recently developed park meant to provide respite from the hustle and bustle of Jakarta's unrelenting traffic. Ahok's administration plans to approve similar projects before the governor's term ends in October. (Antara Photo/Hafiz Mubarak A.)[/caption]

Ian Wilson, a lecturer in politics and security studies and a Research Fellow at Murdoch University’s Asia Research Center, said – in an article published by newmandala.org – Wednesday's results will most likely have a lasting impact on national politics for years to come.

"Judging from national and international headlines, Jakarta’s gubernatorial election on April 19 represents not just a major turning point for the nation’s capital and city of 12 million, but potentially for the entire country," he wrote.

"The alarmist tone is largely due to the unsettling direction campaigning has taken over the past eight months, that has seen any possible substantive policy debates over how to best tackle Jakarta’s complex infrastructural, economic and social problems subsumed by sectarian identity politics."

Economic inequality

Wilson, whose research touches on the political economy of gangs, organized crime and violence in Indonesia, went on to say that: "While the campaigns present, at one level of analysis, a stark contrast between ‘diversity’ on the one hand and sectarian populism on the other, a shared point of commonality is the respective silence regarding a significant shaping force in Jakarta, and arguably the election: rising levels of economic inequality."

He pointed to data from the country's Bureau of Statistics  which shows a steady increase in levels of economic inequality in Jakarta  that reflects a broader trend that has been sweeping the nation over the past decade.

"The country’s much-heralded economic growth has been marked by growing concentrations of that wealth in the hands of a few, and a stagnation if not deterioration in the standard of living of a vast majority of Indonesians," he said.

Wilson also pointed to a 2017 Oxfam report on the widening wealth gap in Indonesia, in which "inequality has been driven by a combination of ‘market fundamentalism,’ high concentrations of land ownership," and the fact that Indonesia registered the second lowest rate of tax collection in Southeast Asia.

[caption id="attachment_618988" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]A photo showing the residences along Ciliwung riverbank at Kampung Pulo area in East Jakarta on Tuesday (03/01). The Jakarta provincial government and the central government will spend at least Rp 5 trillion ($371 million) on relocating 10,000 local residents who live along the riverbank. (Antara Photo/Reno Esnir) A photo taken Jan. 1 showed the residences along Ciliwung riverbank at Kampung Pulo area in East Jakarta. (Antara Photo/Reno Esnir)[/caption]

"The poor and precarious bear the most drastic and damaging impacts of economic inequality, though in a densely populated megacity like Jakarta, it is felt by all social and economic classes — albeit in often vastly different ways and with a range of social and political consequences," he said.

Wilson continued, "For Jakarta’s upper middle classes the desire for security, lifestyle and convenience — together with the push by developers for profitable all-inclusive developments — has meant increasingly self-imposed spatial separation from other social and economic groups within gated estates, apartments towers, shopping malls and private vehicles."

"Once a city of economically mixed neighborhoods, large parts of the city are spatially divided by class and ethnicity. This can be seen in the city’s north, where remaining kampung sit in uneasy tension alongside luxury apartments and gated communities," Wilson said.

Old political and business elites emerge


For President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, Wednesday's outcome poses a new challenge of rising Islamism and the renewed influence of Indonesia’s old political and business elites in the public sphere, according to a Reuters report on Wednesday.

Many old guard figures have shown support for Anies during the election campaign, including moguls Aburizal Bakrie, Hashim Djojohadikusumo and Hary Tanoesoedibjo and retired general and failed 2014 presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto. All were prominent businessmen or military officers linked to the three-decade authoritarian regime of Suharto before his ouster in 1998.

[caption id="attachment_656128" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]The founder of Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) Prabowo Subianto, second from left, announced the victory of Anies Baswedan-Sandiaga uno pair in Jakarta's gubernatorial race on Wednesday (19/04), based on quick counts from pollsters. Also celebrating the victory, the President of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), second from right, the chairman of the National Mandate Party (PAN) Zulkifli Hasan, right, businessman Aburizal Bakrie, third from right, who is also the chairman of the advisory board of Golkar party. Media mogul Hary Tanoesoedibjo also appears during the declaration. (Antara Photo/Dedi Wijaya) Many old guard figures have shown support for Anies-Sandy during the election campaign, including moguls Aburizal Bakrie, Hashim Djojohadikusumo and Hary Tanoesoedibjo and retired general Prabowo Subianto. (Antara Photo/Dedi Wijaya)[/caption]

Reconciliation

While Jakarta remains hampered by a dizzying array of social and political hurdles, scholar Komaruddin Hidayat, dean of Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University in Banten, Jakarta, called on city residents to eliminate any racial, religious or ethnic intolerance.

"We should eliminate the notion of majority and minority, and the government should establish a way to bridge any gaps through the improvement of people’s welfare," Komaruddin told the Jakarta Globe in a phone interview.

Komaruddin, a widely known liberal Muslim scholar and author of several books on religious diversity, said minority groups in Indonesia have existed long before the country achieved independence in 1945-48 and have worked hard to personify the ideals of the state ideology, Pancasila.

"Therefore, they should be granted equality in our society and government," he said.

Indeed, Ahok is not the first Chinese Christian governor of Jakarta. From 1964-65, Hendrik Hermanus Joel Ngantung, known as Henk Ngatung, served as the capital's chief executive and was instrumental in installing artistic statues and monuments throughout the city as befitted his status as one of the country's leading painters at that time.

Various reports show that ethnic Chinese, who currently comprise about 15 percent of the country's population, have historically fought alongside local freedom fighters, known as pribumi, against the Dutch  Indonesia's colonial masters – and the Japanese. Sadly, their participation in building modern Indonesia has been expunged from the country's historical consciousness.

With additional reporting by Reuters

 

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            [post_title] => Ahok's Defeat Signifies Tough Road Ahead for Democratic and Tolerant Future
            [post_excerpt] => Incumbent Jakarta Governor Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama's defeat at the hands of rival candidate Anies Baswedan in Wednesday's (19/04) run-off election raised alarms among many observers that the country's young democracy still has a ways to go in combating religious and ethnic discrimination.
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            [post_date] => 2017-04-21 18:00:34
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                            [title] => Gubernur DKI Jakarta nonaktif Basuki Tjahaja Purnama atau Ahok (tengah) menjawab petanyaan wartawan usai menjalani pemeriksaan di Bareskim, Mabes Polri, Jakarta,
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            [post_content] => Jakarta. Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama went straight back to work after losing the Jakarta gubernatorial election — according to many quick count results — on Wednesday (19/04), resuming a long-running project to normalize the Ciliwung River.

Ahok said he wanted to finish the project before handing over power to new governor Anies Baswedan and his deputy Sandiaga Uno in October.

The river normalization program has been one of Ahok's priorities, aimed at preventing floods which often cripple Jakarta and turning its riverbanks into open green spaces.

The success of the program will depend on how fast the Jakarta administration can build the low-cost rental apartments where evicted residents will move into.

"We need to get the apartments ready. Once they're ready, we can continue with the river normalization program. […] We don't want to stop this program. It's already 50 percent complete. You can see for yourself, even goldfish can live in the water now," Ahok said on Friday (21/04).

Ahok did not say how many low-cost apartments his administration will have to build to continue the river normalization program, saying only that Jakarta residents living illegally on Ciliwung's riverbanks will be evicted and told to move into the subsidized apartments.

"I don't know exactly how many apartment complexes we're going to build, but enough to accommodate evicted residents," the governor added.

The outgoing governor also plans to speed up the compiling of a Jakarta residents database to ensure smooth relocation from the riverbanks to the flats.

Apart from being earmarked for evicted residents, the rental apartments are also supposed to provide accommodation for the city's poor.

"We have to make sure the rich in Jakarta don't buy these apartments. The system has to be very strict," Ahok said.

Watch Indonesia Highlights at 8 p.m. tonight on the Jakarta Globe News Channel and Facebook Live to find out more about the activities of outgoing Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama.
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            [post_content] => Jakarta. Indonesians are showing their support for Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama following his loss in the second round of the gubernatorial election on April 19 by taking to social media to praise the embattled governor.

Ahok and running mate Djarot Saiful Hidayat lost comprehensively to rivals Anies Baswedan and Sandiaga Uno according to quick count results from several pollsters.

However, the General Election Commission, or KPU, will only announce the official winner of the election in early May.

Ahok’s supporters have taken to Instagram and Twitter — with Jakarta being the Twitter capital of the world — to thank Ahok for leading the capital in the past two and a half years.

On Instagram, there were over 4,800 posts using the hashtag #terimakasihahok, or "thank you Ahok," by Friday morning (21/04). There were also more than 1,000 posts using the hashtag #terimakasihahokdjarot, or "thank you Ahok and Djarot."

Both hashtags were also trending on Twitter, as well as another hashtag #AhokForNobel, recommending the governor for the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize.

The hashtag was first mentioned by the Twitter handle @ahokfornobel, which is reportedly run from Oslo, Norway, which hosts the Nobel Prize ceremony every year. Until this report was published the account only had 583 followers.

The account is linked to the website www.ahokfornobel.com where people can show their support for Ahok to receive the Nobel Prize.
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            [post_content] => Jakarta. Jakarta's governor-elect according to quick count results, Anies Baswedan, met with current governor Basuki "Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama at City Hall on Thursday (20/04) to kickstart the handover of power in the capital.

The first thing on their agenda was the 2018 regional budget for Jakarta.

Anies said finalizing the budget will be one of his main concerns ahead of his inauguration in October.

"There will be changes. We want to make sure the budget that has been prepared by the previous administration can accommodate the programs we promised voters during the election campaign. We'll need time to adjust things. We also want to make sure Jakarta residents stay united under a new leadership," Anies said.

The former education minister said he wanted to make good on his election promises as soon as possible.

Anies also praised Ahok for providing all the details he needed to see in the Jakarta regional budget.

"He was very open. He will meet with our team to talk more things through. He even gave advice on which of our programs would need to be prioritized, and what to prepare from the start," Anies said.

Ahok had asked Anies’s budgeting team to submit their data to City Hall using its open database system.

"It's up to Anies to provide us with the data so they can make adjustments on the regional budget as soon as possible," Ahok told the media.

"We've discussed which programs should be prioritized, so once the data are submitted, Anies can start to follow up on his [election] promises," he added.

Anies met Ahok at City Hall at around 7.30 a.m. on Thursday, before leaving at around 8 a.m.

According to quick count results, Anies and his running mate Sandiaga Uno won by a comprehensive 15 percent to 18 percent margin against Ahok and current deputy governor Djarot Saiful Hidayat.

Watch Indonesia Highlights at 8 p.m. tonight on the Jakarta Globe News Channel and Facebook Live to find out more about Jakarta's new governor-elect Anies Baswedan.
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            [post_content] => Jakarta. Prosecutors demanded a two-year probation period with a possible one-year jail term for Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama at the North Jakarta District Court on Thursday (20/04), downgrading the charge against the embattled governor.

Ahok had been facing blasphemy charges since November last year after saying during a speech on Pramuka Island that his political rivals have been quoting verse 51 of the Koran's Al-Maidah chapter to turn people against him.

The governor reportedly told Pramuka Island residents that "maybe deep in your hearts you feel you cannot choose me [as leader] because you've been tricked using Al-Maidah: 51."

However, during a court hearing on Thursday prosecutors chose not to charge Ahok with Article 156a of the Criminal Code on blasphemy, explaining that Ahok's criticism was directed at people, not the Koran.

The prosecutors instead reduced the charge to Article 156 where the prosecution must prove that the accused publicly expressed feelings of hostility, hatred or contempt against one or more groups of the population of Indonesia.

Prosecutor Ali Murkatono said Ahok's speech had created an unnecessary public uproar and that the governor insisted on a singular interpretation of the Al-Maidah verse.

Ali also singled out Buni Yani — the Facebook user who initially edited and uploaded a video of Ahok's speech — for stirring up the public controversy.

The reduced charge carries a lighter maximum sentence and also no longer requires that the prosecution prove that the accused "deliberately" committed the act.

The prosecution recommended that the court sentence Ahok to a two-year probationary period, if the court were to find him guilty. If he breaches the probation order, he would then be required to serve a one-year jail sentence, the prosecution said.

Ahok will respond to the prosecution's recommended sentence at the next hearing, scheduled for April 25.

"My lawyers and I will deliver our statements then," Ahok said.

Ahok will most likely stay on as governor of Jakarta until October — when he will make way for presumed governor-elect Anies Baswedan — since according to regulation a regional leader can only be dismissed from the post if he is involved in a criminal charge where prosecutors demand at least a five-year jail term for his crime.

According to quick count results provided by several pollsters, Ahok and his deputy Djarot Saiful Hidayat lost the second round of the Jakarta gubernatorial election by a large margin of 12 percent to 16 percent.

Ahok congratulated his rival Anies Baswedan and running mate Sandiaga Uno on their victory during a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.

Correction: the previous version of this article said that the prosecution demanded a one-year jail term with a two-year probation period. The Jakarta Globe apologizes for this error.
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                            [title] => Gubernur DKI Jakarta nonaktif Basuki Tjahaja Purnama alias Ahok memasuki ruang sidang untuk menjalani sidang lanjutan kasus dugaan penistaan agama di PN Jakarta Utara, Auditorium Kementerian Pertanian, Jakarta, Selasa (4/4).
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            [post_content] => Jakarta. Jakarta residents should be skeptical of quick count results of the city's gubernatorial runoff election, Arief Budiman, the new chairman of the General Election Commission, or KPU, said on Wednesday (19/04).

The Jakarta election has garnered close international and domestic attention, as the winner of Wednesday's vote is expected to wield significant political leverage in the run-up to Indonesia's presidential race, slated for 2019.

Meanwhile, police across the capital have been placed on high alert to ensure safety on voting day, as 7.2 million city residents are expected to head to the polls.

Overpowering ethnic and religious sentiments have defined much of the campaign period leading up to Wednesday's election, but public figures – including government officials and religious leaders – have urged the public to make the most of the country's democratic processes and vote in the gubernatorial contest without fear of intimidation or outside pressure.

Nevertheless, more than 60,000 police officers have been deployed to secure more than 13,000 polling stations across the capital after several hardline Muslim groups said they were planning a mass demonstration, dubbed "Al-Maidah Picnic," to intimidate incumbent Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama's supporters at the polls.

However, police have not received any reports of mass mobilization at the time of publication.

"The public needs to understand that quick count results are not an official outcome. The winners of the election will be announced by KPU," Arief said.

He added that quick count results are only predictions that use measured calculations and are not always accurate.

"They can use [quick counts] as a reference, but they must understand, KPU is the sole agency that will announce the victor," he said.

Leaders sending peaceful messages

Meanwhile, politicians have urged Jakarta residents to remain calm, regardless of the election's outcome.

Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, son of former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and a losing candidate in the election's first round, cast his ballot early Wednesday at a polling station in Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta.

Imelda Sari, the Democratic Party's head of communications, said Agus did not send any "special message" to his supporters.

"Just let them vote from their conscience," she said.

Candidate pair Anies Baswedan, a former education minister, and his deputy Sandiaga "Sandy" Salahuddin Uno, also called for a peaceful voting process in the capital, despite simmering religious and ethnic tensions in the city that some political analysts say have been exploited by the pair.

"If we win, we will embrace every political party and we will not differentiate between varying socioeconomic statuses, ethnicity or religion," Sandy told reporters after casting his ballot in Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta.

"We will also keep communication lines open with Ahok and Djarot and hold periodic discussion forums with former governors.

"However, if we lose, we will respect the outcome of the election, as long as we don't suspect any cheating. God willing, we feel optimistic about the outcome," he added.

Incumbent Deputy Governor Djarot Saiful Hidayat cast his vote at a polling station in East Kuningan, South Jakarta, early Wednesday after his morning prayer.

"Jakarta is good […] I can assure residents the election will be safe and peaceful," Djarot said, giving thanks to voters for participating in the election.
            [post_title] => KPU Chairman, Politicians Urge Jakarta Residents to Remain Calm Regardless of Quick Count Results
            [post_excerpt] => Jakarta residents should be skeptical of quick count results of the city's gubernatorial runoff election, Arief Budiman, the new chairman of the General Election Commission, or KPU, said on Wednesday (19/04).
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            [post_content] => Jakarta. The imam of Jakarta's Istiqlal Mosque, Nasarudin Umar, said he is against the plan of sending people from outside Jakarta into the capital to help monitor the gubernatorial election runoff on Wednesday (19/04) — a plan concocted by some anti-Ahok groups.

"Jakarta residents are strong-minded. It won't be easy to change their mind. Save your energy and don't bother coming," Nasarudin said on Tuesday.

He added that unnecessary mass gatherings on election day could create chaos and anarchy in the capital.

"Let Jakarta residents cast their vote in peace," the imam said.

The police have banned mass gatherings planned for election day to prevent intimidation of voters.

Current Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama will face off against former education minister Anies Baswedan in the runoff election after neither of them managed to secure more than 50 percent of the total votes in the first round election on Feb. 15.
            [post_title] => Jakarta Voters Not Easily Intimidated: Istiqlal Mosque's Imam
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