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Page last updated at 07:13 GMT, Friday, 10 April 2009 08:13 UK

Indonesia ruling party leads poll

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President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his wife Kristiani cast their vote

Indonesia's president is in prime position for re-election, with early results from general elections showing his party leading by a wide margin.

Official results will not be confirmed for two weeks, but early returns give the Democrat Party a fifth of the vote.

Parties or coalitions need 20% of the seats in parliament in order to contest the presidential election in July.

Thursday's ballot was largely peaceful, with more than 170 million eligible voters across 17,000 islands.

However, at least six people died in violence in Papua province, where there is an active separatist movement.

Groups attacked buildings including a police station. The Papuan police chief said the incidents were aimed at "sabotaging" the ballot.

Islamic flavour

Nearly 40 parties contested the general election.

A woman votes in Jakarta, Indonesia, 9 April

The BBC's Lucy Williamson in Jakarta says that early results from a sample of the national vote suggest that the president's Democrat Party has left its older, more established rivals standing.

These are not official results, simply early predictions drawn from thousands of polling stations across the country, but our correspondent says that if borne out in the final tally, this election will mark a dramatic move away from the parties of Indonesia's previous era.

The Democrat Party is only five years old and bases its appeal largely around the figure of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Riding the wave of his popularity, early indications were that his party has nearly tripled its gains from 7.4% five years ago.

Map

The Golkar Party and the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, who topped the 2004 polls, saw their tallies drop.

This is only the third general election since the fall of the Suharto dictatorship in 1998, after which Indonesia made the transition to democracy.

This time people were able to vote directly for members of parliament, not parties, which made for a heated - and more expensive - campaign.

The main issue for many Indonesians was the economy, along with endemic corruption.

Exports are falling, foreign investment is drying up and millions of poor Indonesians are struggling to stay above the poverty line - in what is south-east Asia's biggest economy.

But with hundreds of candidates, some voters may find the process confusing - and arguments about the voting process and the count are expected, our correspondent says.



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