Jakarta. Governor nominee Anies Baswedan called for peaceful voting in Jakarta on Wednesday (19/04) as he hit the ballot box in an election that has been overshadowed by religious and ethnic tensions.
Anies is in a tight race with current governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, who is embroiled in a blasphemy scandal that has sparked massive protests from Muslims.
Jakarta has gone on high security alert over Wednesday's runoff election, in which 7.2 million residents headed to more than 13,000 polling booths across the capital.
Anies, a former education minister, was among around 700 residents heading to one of nearly 3,000 polling stations in South Jakarta.
"All of us have to make sure this election run well. This is an event that is being monitored not only by the Indonesian public, but also the international community," he told reporters.
"There should be no more restiveness. There should be no more tension. Let's keep things cool and maintain peace," said Anies, who is backed by the opposition Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) Party.
Anies posed a late but serious challenge to Ahok, with several opinion polls published last week showing his approval rating just slightly ahead of Ahok.
The governor, a Christian of Chinese descent, is standing trial on blasphemy charges, but he remains popular among the middle class as a tough reformer.
Ahok, backed by the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), secured 42.9 percent of the vote in the first-round election in mid-February while Anies gathered 39.9 percent.
The election proceeded to a runoff as no nominees won a simple majority. The result of Wednesday's election is set to be officially announced in early May.