Jakarta election heads for second round as Ahok holds narrow lead

Jakarta residents face another two months of campaigning as the race to lead Indonesia's capital was headed for a run-off election that will divide the city's power-brokers along similar lines to the last presidential election.

Numerous 7.1 million residents eligible to vote posted photos on social media sites like Twitter and Instagram, displaying ink-stained fingers to show they had cast ballots.

The Jakarta poll was overshadowed by religious tensions, with major Islamist protests against Christian Purnama, and is being widely seen as a proxy battle for the presidential election in 2019.

Baswedan, who urged Islamic voters throughout his campaign not to support a non-Muslim leader, said his message in the second round would be more focused on politics.

Ahok is running against two candidates.

Meanwhile, the third hopeful candidate Agus Yudhoyono seems to have managed to secure only 17 percent of the votes. Purnama was a deputy to President Joko Widodo when he was the previous Jakarta governor and Widodo's party is backing him. However, the tenacity of Incumbent Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who bounced back from the apparent political death sentence of blasphemy charges and a trial, means he could still eke out a victory.

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"The support for Ahok and (running mate) Djarot (Saiful Hidayat) has not waned", Mr Purnama said.

On the campaign trail past year, Purnama had recited a verse from the Quran, accusing his opponents of using the holy book to turn voters against him.

Everyone here is watching closely to see who will finish it. They attended the latest anti-Ahok protest - a prayer rally at the Istiqlal Mosque on Saturday, and even reiterated the claim that Muslims shouldn't have non-Muslim leaders.

Jakarta's incumbent Governor Basuki Purnama Tjahaja speaks to reporters after casting his vote, February 15, 2017. Governor Purnama is the one who made religion an issue, not us.

Indonesian democracy is constitutionally based on secularism, guaranteeing equal rights to all of its citizens regardless of religion as well as ethnicity.

"This is not over yet", he told cheering supporters at his campaign headquarters in Jakarta.

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The incumbent Governor said on Wednesday that "the fight is not over".

Ahok has been languishing in the opinion polls for months because of the blasphemy case, but he is surging back.

More than 1,000 supporters flocked to Rumah Lembang and Situ Lembang Park to welcome the candidate pair and watch the most recent quick count results.

The earliest a second round will be held is April.

If none of the candidates win 50 percent of the votes in the first round, the second round of elections will be announced. Less than 24 hours before polls were set to open, the former head of Indonesia's anticorruption agency, Antasari Azhar, held a bombshell press conference.

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