Indonesian presidential candidate Joko Widodo gestures to his supporters.
Indonesian presidential candidate Joko Widodo gestures to his supporters.

Jakarta : Both sides claimed victory on Wednesday in Indonesia’s tightest and most divisive presidential election since the end of authoritarian rule, as unofficial tallies showed Jakarta governor Joko Widodo leading ex-general Prabowo Subianto.

 Widodo, the first serious presidential contender without roots in the era of dictator Suharto, declared victory in the world’s third largest democracy after the tallies from reliable polling agencies showed him leading by four to five percentage points, reports AFP.

But shortly afterwards Prabowo, who has admitted human rights abuses during the Suharto era and was formerly married to one of the strongman’s daughters, also claimed victory. Prabowo said survey institutes used by his campaign team showed that he and running mate Hatta Rajasa “have received the support and mandate from the people of Indonesia”.

It was an unprecedented standoff in Indonesia since Suharto’s downfall in 1998. The only two other direct presidential elections since then were won resoundingly by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

The unofficial tallies that Widodo’s party relied on, known as “quick counts”, have accurately predicted the winner of previous elections.

However official results are not due for around two weeks, due to the complexity of holding elections across the archipelago of more than 17,000 islands that spans three time zones.

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