Indonesia casts its ballots for president, with former general Subianto emerging as the frontrunner

Polling stations across Indonesia closed on Wednesday after millions of citizens cast their votes for a new president. Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto is poised as the leading candidate to helm Southeast Asia’s largest economy, despite concerns regarding his human rights record.

Projections indicate that Subianto, a former military chief during the Suharto era, is likely to secure a majority and succeed the popular outgoing president Joko Widodo. Observers suggest that Widodo indirectly supported Subianto’s campaign.

At 72 years old, Subianto has emerged as the clear favorite, blending populist rhetoric with promises to uphold Widodo’s policies, which have fostered consistent economic growth. However, Widodo has reached the constitutional two-term limit.

Expressing his aspirations before voting in Bogor, Subianto stated, “The hope is to win,” urging voters to cast their ballots according to their conscience.

Approximately 205 million eligible voters had the choice between Subianto and his competitors, former Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan and former Central Java governor Ganjar Pranowo, marking the fifth presidential election since the end of Suharto’s regime in 1998.

Polling stations opened at 7:00 am in the easternmost region of Papua and closed at 01:00 pm in jungle-clad Sumatra. The logistical challenge involved over 800,000 polling stations and 20,000 seats at stake, with various transportation means utilized, including planes, helicopters, speedboats, and even cows, to transport ballots across the vast archipelago of nearly 280 million people.

In Timika city, makeshift polling stations constructed from logs, metal sheets, and palm leaves were inspected as voters arrived to peruse candidate lists.

In Jakarta, a thunderstorm affected 34 polling stations, prompting the city’s disaster mitigation agency to relocate some stations where ballot boxes were wrapped in plastic. Workers, wearing shirts reading “not voting is not an option,” undertook efforts to address the situation, including using pumps to drain floodwater.

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