Jakarta. Jakarta residents should be skeptical of quick count results of the city's gubernatorial runoff election, Arief Budiman, the new chairman of the General Election Commission, or KPU, said on Wednesday (19/04).
The Jakarta election has garnered close international and domestic attention, as the winner of Wednesday's vote is expected to wield significant political leverage in the run-up to Indonesia's presidential race, slated for 2019.
Meanwhile, police across the capital have been placed on high alert to ensure safety on voting day, as 7.2 million city residents are expected to head to the polls.
Overpowering ethnic and religious sentiments have defined much of the campaign period leading up to Wednesday's election, but public figures – including government officials and religious leaders – have urged the public to make the most of the country's democratic processes and vote in the gubernatorial contest without fear of intimidation or outside pressure.
Nevertheless, more than 60,000 police officers have been deployed to secure more than 13,000 polling stations across the capital after several hardline Muslim groups said they were planning a mass demonstration, dubbed "Al-Maidah Picnic," to intimidate incumbent Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama's supporters at the polls.
However, police have not received any reports of mass mobilization at the time of publication.
"The public needs to understand that quick count results are not an official outcome. The winners of the election will be announced by KPU," Arief said.
He added that quick count results are only predictions that use measured calculations and are not always accurate.
"They can use [quick counts] as a reference, but they must understand, KPU is the sole agency that will announce the victor," he said.
Leaders sending peaceful messages
Meanwhile, politicians have urged Jakarta residents to remain calm, regardless of the election's outcome.
Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, son of former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and a losing candidate in the election's first round, cast his ballot early Wednesday at a polling station in Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta.
Imelda Sari, the Democratic Party's head of communications, said Agus did not send any "special message" to his supporters.
"Just let them vote from their conscience," she said.
Candidate pair Anies Baswedan, a former education minister, and his deputy Sandiaga "Sandy" Salahuddin Uno, also called for a peaceful voting process in the capital, despite simmering religious and ethnic tensions in the city that some political analysts say have been exploited by the pair.
"If we win, we will embrace every political party and we will not differentiate between varying socioeconomic statuses, ethnicity or religion," Sandy told reporters after casting his ballot in Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta.
"We will also keep communication lines open with Ahok and Djarot and hold periodic discussion forums with former governors.
"However, if we lose, we will respect the outcome of the election, as long as we don't suspect any cheating. God willing, we feel optimistic about the outcome," he added.
Incumbent Deputy Governor Djarot Saiful Hidayat cast his vote at a polling station in East Kuningan, South Jakarta, early Wednesday after his morning prayer.
"Jakarta is good […] I can assure residents the election will be safe and peaceful," Djarot said, giving thanks to voters for participating in the election.