Indonesia's Jokowi calls for vigilant eye on poll too close to call

(Photo: REUTERS / Darren Whiteside)Indonesia presidential candidate Joko "Jokowi" Widodo gestures as chats with members of the media after a news conference in Jakarta July 10, 2014. The man most likely elected Indonesia's new president warned on Thursday against tampering with ballots ahead of a final count of votes later this month. Jokowi, named the winner of Wednesday's disputed election by several non-partisan pollsters who have been accurate in the past, also displayed fledgling presidential credentials at a news conference, condemning Israel's Gaza offensive. Both Jokowi and rival candidate, former general Prabowo Subianto, claimed victory in the election, the closest ever such contest in the world's third biggest democracy. The Elections Commission is to announce the official result around July 22.

The outcome of the Indonesian presidential election is seemingly too close to call.

But minority groups in Indonesia have something to cheer about after quick count results of an independent pollster revealed that Jakarta governor Joko "Jokowi" Widodo is edging closer to victory.

Polling Thursday by the Center for Strategic and International Studies-Cyrus Network has Jokowi leading the presidential race with 51.9 percent of the votes.

His rival, former military general Prabowo Subianto, trailed closely with 48.1 percent, reported.

With the elections far from over as indicated by the slim margin, Jokowi asked for vigilance as ballots continued to be canvassed.

"It's time for us to monitor the recapitulation of the vote so that everything runs clearly and honestly. There should be no intervention," Jokowi said at a press conference in Jakarta on Thursday.

An estimated 140 million voters trooped to polling centers across the world's largest archipelago to elect a new president.

Minority groups in Indonesia have thrown their support to Jokowi, believing that the Jakarta governor could ease religious tensions in the predominantly Muslim country.

"His victory gives us hope in our struggle – a chance to enjoy the freedom of religion," said Jalaludin Rakhmat, a Shia Muslim, in an interview with

The Rev. Palti Panjaitan, a pastor at the Batak Protestant Church (HKBP) Filadelfia in Bekasi, West Java, said he saw in Jokowi's track record his capability to address religious intolerance which is prevalent in Indonesia.

"It makes us say that he can bring a change in the issue. The problem so far is that our president doesn't have a clear commitment.

"Indeed, our president said many times that he respected freedom of religion but failed to take concrete actions to address the issue," said Panjaitan.

Firdaus Mubarik, a spokesman for the minority Indonesian Ahmadiyya Congregation, said the tight regulation on their freedom to worship has caused resentment in the Ahmadiya community.

"Our mosques were closed down and attacked. Our religious activities were dismissed. These cases happened for years but no strict actions were taken by the government," he said.

In June, authorities in Ciamis, West Java closed down a Ahmadiya mosque, citing a joint ministerial decree.

"We hope that Jokowi can handle such a situation. What we want is a president who upholds the diversity. Jokowi has shown it to us, with his words and actions," stated Mubarik.

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