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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 August 2007, 14:44 GMT 15:44 UK
Jakarta holds historic election
Voters stand near election posters as they wait to cast their ballots in Jakarta - 08/08/07
Pollsters say residents are cynical that the election can bring change
People in the Indonesian capital Jakarta have been going to the polls to directly elect their governor for the first time.

The city's governors have until now been appointed by local parliament.

The poll is part of a country-wide decentralisation drive allowing for direct local polls in several areas.

Early sample results showed current deputy governor Fauzi Bowo heading for a comfortable victory over his Islamic party rival Adang Daradjatun.

But turnout in Jakarta was predicted to be low, as many people were reportedly disappointed and confused about the new democratic options in the capital.

The decision to allow independent candidates to contest the election came too late for many to be able to participate.

I'm very happy, I've been looking forward to this day. We never had the right to choose before, someone always did it for us
Housewife Wanem

Other would-be contenders have complained of not being able to afford the payments they allege are needed to secure political support, the BBC's Lucy Williamson reports.

Electioneering

For weeks Jakartans had been faced with the unmistakable signs of an upcoming election, our correspondent says.

The giant faces of the two main candidates smiled down at commuters from billboards around the city.

Traffic around the central roundabout regularly ground to a halt as their brightly-dressed supporters held up slogans, such as "Let's fix Jakarta" and "Jakarta for all".

Just under half of Jakarta's 12 million residents were eligible to vote, and some were looking forward to casting their ballot.

"I'm very happy, I've been looking forward to this day," housewife Wanem was quoted by the Associated Press news agency as saying.

"We never had the right to choose before, someone always did it for us."

However, one respected polling organisation, the Indonesian Survey Institute, predicted turnout as low as 35%.

Its survey found that nearly half of residents expressed doubts that either candidate could do much to combat Jakarta's problems with poverty, pollution and flooding.




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