Asia-Pacific

All eyes on Jakarta as Indonesians head to the polls

Incumbent Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, right, and his deputy and also running mate Djarot Saiful Hidayat pose for photographers at a rally Source: AAP

Millions will head to the polls across Indonesia in regional elections on Wednesday, but officials eyes are trained on the heated campaign in Jakarta.

As tens of millions of Indonesians head to the polls for regional elections across the country, officials are focusing on Jakarta where a heated campaign has sparked "rumours" of vote coercion and intimidation.

More than 200,000 military and police personnel are set to be deployed across the archipelago as more than 100 regional elections are held on Wednesday.

National Police Chief Tito Karnavian has urged people not to "smear" other candidates or "fish for chaos".

"Let people vote based on their own conscience," he said this week.

Police and military will be keeping a close eye on the former conflict areas of West Papua and Aceh, but their main focus is Jakarta, where a heated campaign has been fought.

President Joko Widodo's ascendancy from Jakarta governor to the palace in 2014 has added a new intensity to the competition in the capital - with the position now viewed as a springboard for presidential hopefuls.

Embattled Christian governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, aka Ahok, is locked in a three-way race with Agus Yudhoyono, the eldest son of the former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, as well as former education minister Anies Rasyid Baswedan.

While fighting it out on the political front, Ahok, is also facing allegations of blasphemy over comments he made last September referring to the Koran.

There has also been mass mobilisation against him in the past few months - with hardline Muslim groups holding large-scale rallies in the capital calling on him to be jailed and for voters not to elect a non-Muslim.

Gen Karnavian said on Monday that there was a "rumour" people were set to target some polling stations in an attempt to coerce or intimidate voters.

Deni Irvani, research director of the Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting will be among the companies compiling results from some of more than 13,000 polling stations across Jakarta from when voting closes at 1pm local time (1700 AEDT).

Mr Irvani said they will look at 500 polling stations with early results from these expected around 4pm (2000 AEDT).

Official results, however, are not expected until mid-March.

A candidate will need to receive more than 50 per cent of the vote in order to win Jakarta outright.

Otherwise the leading two candidates will go to a second round of voting in April where they will need to gain a majority.

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